Massachusetts Court Discusses Disabilities Under the Social Security Act

Many people who cannot work are able to obtain social security benefits. A key element to eligibility for such benefits is a disability that prevents a person from being able to remain gainfully employed. Thus, people that cannot prove they are disabled will be denied benefits. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion discussing what factors are considered in determining whether a person is disabled under the Social Security Act. If you cannot work due to an injury or illness, you may be owed social security benefits, and it is prudent to meet with a skilled Massachusetts social security disability attorney regarding your options.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that in December 2014, the plaintiff herniated a disc in his lumbar spine and suffered from disc bulges in other areas. He was regularly treated for his injuries, which included undergoing epidural injections. In January 2016, he was involved in a car accident while working, after which he experienced increased pain. He developed sciatica as well. He filed a workers’ compensation claim, and a doctor ultimately deemed him permanently and totally disabled for any job due to his injuries.

Reportedly, the plaintiff continued treating, and medical records throughout his treatment alternately indicated severe symptoms and a lack of any issues. He then filed a claim for social security disability benefits, listing the date of the car accident as the onset of his disability. His application was denied after he was deemed not disabled. He then appealed.

Proving a Disability for Purposes of Social Security Benefits

Under the Social Security Act, a disability is defined as the inability to engage in gainful activity to a substantial degree due to a physical or mental impairment. The impairment must be medically determinable and must have lasted or be expected to last at least one year. Additionally, it must not only prevent a person from resuming prior employment but also from being gainfully employed in any manner.

A five-part analysis will be conducted to determine if a person is disabled. Specifically, the court must determine whether: the applicant is currently employed; has a severe impairment or an impairment equal to those listed in the Social Security regulations; the impairment prevents the claimant from resuming work of the type he or she engaged in previously; and, the impairment prevents the claimant from engaging in any work.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to meet the fifth component of the test. Specifically, while he could no longer work as a postal employee, he could work in another capacity. Thus, the court denied the plaintiff’s appeal.

Meet with an Experienced Massachusetts Attorney

People who are unable to earn an income because of a chronic condition or disease often experience severe financial hardships. If you cannot work because of a mental or physical condition, you may be able to recover social security benefits and should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan can advise of your rights and help you to seek social security disability benefits to help you regain financial security. You can contact us at 508-822-6600 or via our online form to set up a conference.