Although hundreds of thousands of people apply for Social Security disability every single year, few are aware of the process of determining whether a disability qualifies. While some disabilities are automatically eligible for benefits, others must be examined closely before an application is approved. Social Security uses a system known as “grid rules” to examine whether or not a disability will qualify for SSDI benefits.
If you suffer from a disability that does not automatically qualify for benefits, it can be useful to learn more about the grid rules examination so you can be sure to get the benefits you deserve. Learn more about the Social Security grid rules system for determining disability and get advice from a California disability lawyer after a claim denial.
Examining Your Residual Capacity
Before examining your disability using the grid rules, a Social Security examiner will have to make a few initial determinations that will go towards your application approval. The first such approval is known as residual functional capacity (RFC).
Your RFC is determined by examining your medical records for information about how much your disability affects your overall physical capacities and ability to work. Once your examiner has designated your RFC, the process can continue.
The next step your examiner will take to fill out the grid is to look at your education level. For Social Security purposes, there are four distinct levels of education: illiterate or non-English speaker, limited education, a high school graduate or GED earner and skilled vocational training. Inadequate educational levels can seriously impede a person’s ability to work and can be a crucial part of receiving disability benefits.
Work Ability and Skills
Finally, the last step before examining your disability with the grid is to look at your work experience and skills. Disability examiners will research the skill level required for your previous job and will determine if any or all of those skills might be transferable to a new career that matches the limitations of your disability.
For example, someone with extensive job training may have skills that transfer to a non-labor job, allowing you to work even with a disability. On the other hand, low-skilled workers will have a tough time transferring their skills to another job, making it easier for them to receive disability benefits.
Grid Rules and What to Do if You’re Denied
Now we get to the crux of the matter: Examining your disability using grid rules. Your examiner will plug the previously mentioned information—RFC, education, work skills—as well as your age into the grid to determine if your disability applies for benefits.
A worker who is above the age of 50, has limited education, low RFC and non-transferrable skills will almost always receive benefits, whereas a younger worker with modest abilities, education and transferable skills is often denied.
Most applicants who are denied benefits based on the grid rules are between the ages of 18 and 49. However, after being denied, it may still be possible to receive benefits.
First, you may receive approval for certain ailments, such as depression, that affect your ability to work without limiting your physical capacities. Secondly, you can try to prove that you aren’t able to do sedentary work, either by working towards a lower RFC or proving you’ve worked for more than 35 years. Finally, if you are nearing the approval age of 50, you may request that Social Security take this fact into account.
Hire a California Disability Lawyer
If you’ve gone through the Social Security application process and had your disability claim denied due to grid rules, then you may need legal help to get your benefits. Fight for your disability benefits with the help of a California disability lawyer from The Law Office of Dr. Bill LaTour.