As I have noted on this blog and on my Detroit disability website, the Social Security Administration relies on a specific definition of the term “disabled,” and uses a 5-step analysis to determine if your claim meets this definition. Under this analysis, you are “disabled” and entitled to an award of disability benefits if:
(1) You are not presently working; and
(2) You have a severe physical or mental impairment; and EITHER
(3) Your impairment meets or medically equals a Listing impairment; OR
(4) You are not able to do your past work; and
(5) You are not able to do any other available work.
Often, a claim is denied at step 5, on the ground that the claimant is capable of performing some type of sedentary work available in the economy. At this stage of the analysis, your real-life concerns regarding your situation are irrelevant to the Social Security Administration. For example, you may argue that you are disabled because:
- No one will hire you because of your medical condition;
- You are not able to find work;
- Your industry has undergone technological or other changes;
- The economy is in a down cycle;
- The only jobs you could get don’t pay enough to support your family; or
- You wouldn’t like a particular type of work .
While these matters may be of critical importance to you and your family, they do not count in Social Security’s evaluation of your ability to work. Social Security wants to know, “Hypothetically speaking, are you able to perform any other type of available work?” Thus, if your claim is denied on the ground that you are capable of working, you will have to demonstrate that you are not able to do a whole range of sedentary work (the easiest type of work) in order to be awarded benefits. As an experienced Michigan disability attorney, I can help focus your case on the facts relevant to the Social Security decision-makers; gather supporting evidence; and, if necessary, enlist the help of a vocational expert. If you would like to talk about your case, please contact me.