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Determining Social Security Disability

Social Security Eligibility DeterminationSocial Security Eligibility Determination

How the Judge Determines Disability

The hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is a complicated and technical procedure. It may seem to be a matter of common sense that if you cannot get a job because of your medical problems, you must be disabled. However, your Michigan disability lawyer will explain this is not the case. In fact, the disability decision is more a “hypothetical” determination than anything else.

How is the decision hypothetical?

Under Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines, the ALJ looks to whether you are capable of doing a job, not whether you would ever be hired for that job. In the real world, a prospective employer may not hire you because of your medical issues, but if the ALJ determines that you could perform the duties of that job, you will be determined to be not disabled.

What does the ALJ look at?

First, the ALJ will look at the medical findings. In some cases, these findings are such that the ALJ will immediately find a claimant disabled. However, this is rare.

In the majority of cases, your Michigan disability lawyer will need to prove two things:

  1. Your medical impairments prevent you from performing any job you have done in the past 15 years; and
  2. There are not any other jobs you are capable of performing in consideration of your age, education and work experience.

This may be a difficult burden. Again, you are faced with the task of proving something in the abstract and not in a real-world situation. Consider the easiest job you have had over the last 15 years. You have to prove you cannot perform that job, even if the company no longer exists, even if that type of job no longer exits, and even if you know you would never actually be hired.

The second factor is even more difficult to prove. This requires not only a consideration of all the jobs you have had, but also an understanding of all the potential jobs that may exist in the workplace.

But what if I am “totally and permanently disabled?”

This phrase is used in workers’ compensation cases but does not apply in SSA cases. In fact, you do not have to be permanently disabled to qualify for SSA disability benefits; you must only be disabled for 12 months.

The complexities of an SSA hearing before a judge require the counsel of a Michigan disability lawyer. JB Bieske may be reached for a complimentary consultation at (586) 977-8100

J.B. Bieske & Jennifer Alfonsi, Attorneys at Law

19991 Hall Road, Suite 202
Macomb, MI 48044
Phone: 586-977-8100
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