When determining disability, the Social Security Administration will first determine whether you can return to any of your past relevant work. “Relevant past work” is any work that you performed for three months or longer, had time to learn, and in which you earned the SGA amount or more in the past fifteen years. If you cannot return to even the lightest of these jobs, the sequential evaluation process moves on to the next step in order to determine whether you can perform “other work.”  “Other work” is any other type of work that is performed in the general national economy that you might be able to perform when your age, education, residual functional capacity, and transferability of job skills are considered. The rules for determining disability apply most directly to impairments that limit your physical ability to stand, sit, walk, lift, bend or work with your hands. You can also have a disability based on a mental impairment, but this is a bit more complicated, and will be discussed at length in a later article.

Basically, if you are unable to perform certain kinds of manual labor, whether because of a condition such as a back problem, heart condition, breathing problem, or any other serious medical problem, as your law firm we will be able to look at the rules and figure out what needs to be established to win your case. Here are some examples:

If you are under age 50, you will be considered a younger individual, and the general rule is that you must prove that you cannot do an easy sit-down job, or even a job where you are allowed to alternate sitting and standing during the workday. Think of a job such as a “ticket-taker” in a movie theater. You must prove you could not do this job even though you might not actually be hired for such a position.

If you are age 50 through 54, the general rule is that you have to prove that you cannot do “light work.” Light work is defined as work involving being on your feet most of the day and lifting up to about 20 pounds. Thus, even though you might still be able to do a sit-down, simple, repetitive job such as the ticket-taker job or a desk job, you can still be found to be disabled.

If you are age 55 or older, it gets even easier. The general rule is that you have to prove that you cannot do medium work. Medium work is work involving being on your feet for most of the day, frequently lifting 25 pounds and occasionally lifting and carrying up to 50 pounds. Therefore, you could even be capable of doing light work as defined above and still be found disabled.

As you can see, you must not only prove what you cannot do, but also have to establish what you can do. In most cases, the judge will not accept any sort of “I can’t do anything” explanation as to why you’re disabled. It is because of the detail and nature of evidence necessary that you should seriously consider hiring an experienced attorney to help you in your efforts to establish disability. These issues can get complicated when you have held jobs in the past where you learned many skills. The judge is going to want to know about your work skills, and you are going to have to be able to explain them to the judge.

Ron Fladhammer has over 20 years of experience representing individuals who have been denied Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Our office hosts one of the only video hearing location sites in the state of Illinois, so there is no need to travel to any other location to have your hearing held. Our success rate is outstanding, and if your case is not approved, there are no attorney fees.

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