GOING ON THE GRID: UNDERSTANDING THE MEDICAL-VOCATIONAL GUIDELINES
The Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process for Social Securitydisability claims sometimes causes confusion for disability claimants. Your disability lawyer in Greensboro NC can explain that, although some claimants are able to be found disabled based on the first three steps of the process, others will have to meet all five steps in order to qualify for benefits. If the decision-maker reviewing your claim finds that you pass steps 3 and 4 of the process, then your case will move onto the fifth and final step, which determines your Residual Functional Capacity.
BREAKING DOWN THE PROCESS
This is the most complicated step in the process, but, in general, it concerns the question of whether you are able to do other jobs that might be available to you given your age, work experience and education. This is a multi-pronged question in which the decision-maker will:
- Assess your exertional functional capacity,
- Assess your age, work experience, and education,
- Cross-reference your characteristics in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, and
- Assess your non-exertional limitations, if the Medical-Vocational Guidelines do not find you disabled.
UNDERSTANDING THE GRIDS
The Medical-Vocational Guidelines, or “grids” as they are commonly known, are a series of three charts, each for a different level of physical activity, prepared by the Social Security Administration. Each chart is separated into columns with a residual functional capacity on one axis and columns for age, education, and work experience on the other axis. The decision-maker will cross-check your RFC with your other metrics on the chart. If your combination falls in a column marked “disabled,” then you will be found disabled.
This may sound like a rigid and bureaucratic process, but the reasoning behind it is that a younger and better-educated worker will be more easily able to adapt to a new job or new work requirement than an older and less-educated worker. Your disability lawyer in Greensboro NC can give you an idea of where in the grids your case is likely to fall. In general, a claimant under the age of 50 will not be found disabled unless he or she cannot even perform a basic sedentary job. Claimants between 50 and 54 must be physically unable to do what is considered “light” work, while claimants who are 55 and older must be unable to perform medium work as defined by the SSA.
NEXT STEP: NON-EXERTIONAL LIMITATIONS
If you are not found disabled according to the grids, hope is not lost. The decision-maker will move onto considering any non-exertional limitations on your ability to work, such as:
- Limitations on your ability to visually see close objects or far objects and utilize depth perception and peripheral vision
- Limitations on using your hands to reach and handle objects
- Limitations on your hearing and speaking ability
• Mental and cognitive limitations
CONTACT A DISABILITY LAWYER IN GREENSBORO NC
The true outcome of your case will depend on several factors. To find out more about applying for disability benefits, contact a disability attorney in Greensboro NC at the Bridgman Law Offices. Call (704) 815-6055.