The following are some examples of cases where individuals aged 50-54 were approved and disapproved for disability benefits based on the grid rules.

  • A 51-year-old woman applied for disability benefits based on nerve damage from diabetes (diabetic neuropathy). She had a high-school education and her past work was as a mundane typist. The SSA determined that the claimant had the RFC to perform sedentary work and could not perform her past work (say the neuropathy ruined her fingers). However, because it was also determined that she didn’t have any transferable jobs skills, the GRID directed a finding of disabled.

TIP: diabetic neuropathy destroys the tiny nerve endings in extremities.  People lose tactile sensation in their fingers.  They usually cannot perform fine manipulations.  Also if they test blood sugars 5-10 times a day and stick their fingers, as this goes on year after year, they get heavy callous formation in their finger tips and lose tactile sensation.

  • A 54-year-old man applied for disability benefits based on heart disease, well controlled high blood pressure, and lower-back pain. The SSA determined that he still had the RFC to do light work. The claimant was illiterate and his past work was as an unskilled general laborer. As a result of the applicant’s illiteracy, the GRID rules directed a finding of disabled.
  • TIP: When in doubt about literacy, get school records or ask the SSA to test the claimant!
  • A 52-year-old man filed for disability benefits based on a knee replacement and arthritis in his knees. The SSA determined that he had the RFC to perform sedentary work. The claimant had a culinary degree, and his prior work was as a kitchen manager. The SSA determined that he had transferable skills that included the ability to manage staff and communicate effectively writing and speaking. Based on these factors, the grid rules directed a finding of not disabled.
  • TIP:  You have to neutralize transferable skills to win here.  Is the man depressed and cannot tolerate stress, Is he on scheduled narcotics and has some brain fog because of medication side-effects,…
  • A 53-year-old man filed for disability based on severe migraine headaches. The SSA determined that because the migraines were controllable, he had the RFC to perform medium work. All RFCs for medium work in his age range directed a finding of not disabled.
  • TIP: Migraine cases are an example of non-exertional impairments.  Most all migraine cases, like seizure cases, key on the frequency and duration of the headaches. You are essentially showing you are not reliable.  You have too many headaches too often to be reliable in the workplace.  SO:  Keep a headache log and turn it in.  Make sure your neurologist (you see one, right?) charts the frequency, duration, and intensity of the migraines. If it is NOT in the medical records, good luck…..

If you are between 18 and 49 years old, there is a good chance you will be denied because you are still able to do sedentary work. However, if you are 50 or older, you may likely be approved because of the application of the GRID rules.

Finally, if you are working at an SGA level at any exertional level, you are probably not disabled because you are able to work, and demonstrating it.  Yes, I see this monthly.  People return to work because these claims take forever, and they are starving. SO they work to survive, and work above SGA levels, and, they were not off a full year. It’s sad but the case will fail. Clients get mad at me for delivering the news.  This is a denial at step 1 of the five-step evaluation process.  What is SGA level work can be the topic of a half-day seminar.  It is not always fatal, so ask a lawyer. Self-employment is a VERY special category of work and has its own Ruling.

However, if you do not qualify under one of the grid rules, it is not the end of your case, all of your other limitations must be considered, which may help you win approval. An experienced disability attorney can help claimants properly file their claim for benefits. Contact the Sullivan Law Office today by calling 888-587-0228 or visiting us online! We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you.Sample Case Studies: Workers Age 50-54