You may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you have become incapacitated in a way that would prevent you from maintaining employment. To obtain these benefits, you must be unable to work as a result of a medical condition that will last more than a year or result in death. The condition does not have to be work-related. In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked, but employment history is not necessary for SSI.
The United District Court of Massachusetts issued an opinion in Burgos v. Mastroianni regarding the final decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration in denying a woman’s application for SSI benefits. In any review of a decision to deny benefits, the District Court is obligated to uphold the decision if the ruling is supported by substantial evidence that a reasonable mind would find adequate.
The main issue was whether or not there was substantial evidence to deny the woman’s benefits. The ALJ examined the evidence submitted to demonstrate the woman’s mental residual functional capacity and determined that the condition was not severe enough for a finding of impairment under the law. Disability benefits are provided to individuals whose physical or mental health impairments are so severe that they are unable to work at their current jobs and unable to engage in other substantial, gainful work.
The ALJ used a five-step determination to determine whether an award of disability was appropriate. Specifically, the ALJ found that the woman had not been engaged in substantial gainful activity since her application and that the woman had three severe impairments of anxiety, depression, and a cyst in her right hand, but these impairments did not individually meet or equal in combination the severity of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. The ALJ also found that, while the woman was unable to continue performing previous work, she was still able to perform some tasks that exist in jobs in the national economy.
The woman argued in her appeal that the ALJ wrongly determined that her complaints of psychological symptoms were not credible and that the ALJ ignored evidence regarding the severity of the woman’s depression and anxiety. The District Court affirmed the ALJ’s findings, agreeing that there was substantial evidence for the decision to deny benefits. The court affirmed the ALJ’s determination that the testimony of the woman, who was able to take care of her children and perform light work when receiving regular medication and therapy, was enough to show she was not severely impaired by her depression and anxiety.
This case provides a glimpse of what appellate bodies consider when determining whether or not to grant Social Security benefits. The Massachusetts Social Security attorneys at the Law Office of James K. Meehan have the experience you need as you begin your application for benefits. Our lawyers have the knowledge and understanding needed and are here to assist with your application. For a free, confidential consultation, contact our office today at 508-622-6600.
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