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Tag: RFC

What Are the Social Security Disability GRIDS?

What Are the Social Security Disability GRIDS? Generally, Social Security defines disability as having the inability to work.  Social Security considers your ability to go back to your past work.  They also look at your ability to do other types of work.  However, Social Security understands it may be harder for older individuals to learn new work.  Therefore, Social Security has more favorable rules for people over age 50.

What are the GRIDS?

Social Security uses a medical-vocational chart known as the GRIDS when evaluating disability claims.  The GRIDS consider different factors including your age, education and work background.  They also consider your residual functional capacity or RFC.  Social Security looks at the GRIDS chart to see if you qualify for disability even if you can do other types of work.

Social Security Disability GRIDS and your past work

When you apply for disability, you must provide your work history.  Social Security asks you to explain the type of jobs you had going back 15 years.  They ask you how long you did each job.  They also ask how much you earned at your past jobs.  Only work done in the past 15 years that resulted in significant earnings is considered relevant for your disability claim.  The GRIDS won’t apply if Social Security thinks you can do any past work.

Social Security Disability GRIDS and your RFC

Social Security defines your RFC as what you can do despite your limitations.  An RFC includes both mental and physical limitations.  Social Security reviews your medical records to figure out your RFC.  Therefore, it is extremely important that tell Social Security about all of your doctors.  You should see your doctors regularly.  Your doctors can help you case by completing an RFC form.  They should include both physical and mental limitations caused by your medical conditions.  They should also include any side effects from medications or pain levels.  Your disability advocate can provide these forms for your doctor. 

Social Security Disability GRIDS:  categories of work

The GRIDS divide work into several different physical categories.  The more physical your past work, the more likely the GRIDS will help you win your case.  These categories include:

  • Sedentary – sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and walking and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

Social Security Disability GRIDS:  transferable skills

In addition to physical limitations, Social Security also considers skills required to do your past work.  They must figure out if you can use skills from your past work to do other types of jobs with little or no new training.  Social Security considers these types of skills “transferable skills”.  If your past work has transferable skills, it may be harder to apply the GRIDS.  Any problems you have with memory, attention or concentration can help eliminate transferable skills. If Social Security finds that you can only perform simple or routine tasks, transferable skills don’t apply.  Usually, to prove this limitation, you need mental health treatment. 

Example 1:  applying the GRIDS over 50

In one case, a 53 year old man applied for disability benefits after he broke his ankle.  He required surgery and had pins and screws in his foot, developed arthritis in the ankle and ongoing pain.  He required a cane, previously worked as a line cook and dishwasher.  Social Security found that he could no longer perform his past work as a line cook or dishwasher.  They also found he could only do sedentary jobs.  Since his past work had no transferable skills, the GRIDS applied.  Social Security approved his disability claim. 

Example 2:  applying the GRIDS over 50

In another case, a 50 year old woman applied for disability benefits because she had lumbar disc disease, osteoarthritis in her knees and depression.  She previously worked as a medical receptionist and office clerk.  Social Security found despite her impairments, she could still perform sedentary work.  However, they also found she could only perform simple and routine tasks due to her depression.  Since her job required more complex tasks, she was not able to return to her past work.  Therefore, the GRIDS allowed Social Security to approve her claim.

Example 3:  applying the GRIDS over 55

For example, a 58 year old man applied for disability after he had a heart attack.  He needed heart surgery and had several stents placed.  His doctor told him he could no longer lift more than 10 pounds due to the stents.  Despite surgery, he also continued to have chest pain and shortness of breath.  He previously worked as a dump truck driver.  Social Security found that he could not perform his past work.  However, they felt he could do light work.  Since he was 58 years old and could no longer perform his past work, the GRIDS applied.  He was awarded disability benefits. 

Example 4:  applying the GRIDS over 55

In another example, a 60 year old woman filed for disability due to diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, asthma and anxiety.  She previously worked as an auditor and housekeeper.  Social Security found that she could not return to her past work as an auditor because she could only perform simple tasks.  They found she could not return to her past work as a housekeeper because she could not stand or walk for long periods.  They applied the GRIDS and found her disabled. 

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What Are the GRIDS for SSDI?

What Are the GRIDS for SSDI? Social Security has special disability rules for people over the age 50.  Social Security uses a chart called the Medical-Vocational guidelines to evaluate your claim known as the “grid rules”.  The grid rules make it easier for older people to win their case.

SSDI GRIDS factors

Social Security understands that it may be harder for people over 50 to do new or different work.  First, Social Security considers whether your conditions meet specific requirements under their medical listings.  Often, these conditions can be very difficult to meet.  Next, Social Security considers the GRIDS.  The grid rules consider several factors.  These include:

  • Your age, education or work history
  • Skills from your past work
  • Your residual functional capacity (RFC)

SSDI GRIDS and your age

Generally, Social Security divides people into four age groups.  Typically, if you are 50 or older, Social Security can use the GRIDS to approve your case even if you can do other work.  The rules can be even more favorable for people over 55.  These age groups include:

  • Younger individuals:  ages 18-49
  • Closely approaching advanced age:  ages 50-54
  • Advanced age:  ages 55-59
  • Closely approaching retirement age:  ages 60 and older

SSDI GRIDS and your education

Social Security considers your education level.  Generally, the less education you have, the harder it would be to find other types of jobs.  Social Security used to consider a person’s ability to communicate in English.  However, a recent rule change removed this factor.  Education categories include:

  • Illiteracy – inability to read or write in any language
  • Marginal – completed 6th grade or less in any country
  • Limited – completed 7th through 11th grade in any country
  • High school education and above in any country

SSDI GRIDS and you work history

Social Security must categorize your past work before applying the GRIDS.  The GRIDS only apply if you can’t perform any of your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  This includes work performed in the last 15 years.  It must have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work.  Providing accurate information about your past work can be very important to your SSDI case. 

SSDI GRIDS and physical levels of work

Social Security divides types of work by their physical requirements.  For people 50 or older, the more physical your past work was, the easier it is for Social Security to apply the GRIDS.  The physical categories of work include:

  • Sedentary – sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and walking and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

SSDI GRIDS and job skills

Social Security looks at any skills required to perform your past work.  Sometimes, skills from your past work can be used to do different types of jobs.  Generally, these skills can be used in other jobs with little or no additional training.  Social Security refers to these skills as “transferable skills”.  If Social Security finds that you have transferable skills to other work, the GRIDS may be harder to apply. 

SSDI GRIDS and getting around transferable skills

However, there can be ways around transferable skills.  Typically, this can be done if you have a mental health impairment.  Mental health impairments include conditions such as depression or anxiety.  However, they can also include side effects from medications or the impact pain has on mental functioning.  When a person has medical evidence documenting mental health impairment, Social Security must evaluate their ability to perform the mental demands of work.  Usually, Social Security concludes a person can only perform simple, routine tasks when there is evidence of mental health impairment.  This limitation eliminates transferable skills. 

SSDI GRIDS and your RFC

Social Security defines residual functional capacity (RFC) as what you can do despite your limitations.  An RFC includes both physical and mental limitations.  Social Security determines your RFC based on your medical records.  They can also consider opinions from your treating doctors.  Social Security cannot determine your RFC from a diagnosis alone.  Therefore, you must see your doctors regularly.  You should see specialists if you can. 

Applying SSDI GRIDS

Once Social Security figures out your RFC and your work history, they will look at the GRIDS.  Social Security has separate GRIDS for sedentary, light and medium work.  For people over 50, the more physically limited you are and the more physically demanding your past work was, the more likely the GRIDS show you should be found disabled. 

Example 1:  SSDI GRIDS over 50

For example, Janet, a 52 year old woman previously worked as an office manager.  Janet completed high school.  She filed for SSDI because she was having worsening anxiety and osteoarthritis in her knees.  Janet has difficulty standing and walking for long periods.  Her doctors prescribed her a cane.  Despite medication and therapy, Janet has difficulty managing her anxiety symptoms.  Social Security found that Janet could not perform her past work.  They also found that she could not do any other light jobs.  She also was limited to simple and routine tasks.  Therefore, the GRIDS applied and Janet was approved for disability. 

Example 2:  SSDI GRIDS over 55

In another example, Jose filed for SSDI after injuring his back.  He is 57 years old and has a high school education.  Jose worked for many years as a dishwasher.  Since his injury, he has difficulty sitting and standing for long periods.  He can’t lift or carry more than 10 pounds.  Social Security found that he could do light work.  His job as a dishwasher doesn’t have any transferable skills.  Therefore, the GRIDS allowed social Security to approve Jose’s case. 

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Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

What Evidence Do I Need for SSDI?

What Evidence Do I Need for SSDI? Social Security pays SSDI benefits when you have a medical condition or combination of conditions that prevent you from working.  Your medical impairments must keep you from working for at least 12 months.  Additionally, you must have worked for a certain number of years.  Generally, you need to have worked for at least 5 out of the last 10 years.  Social Security requires certain evidence to support your SSDI claim.

Non-medical evidence for SSDI:  Disability Report

Naturally, SSDI applications require a lot of information.  Part of the application process includes providing a form called the Disability Report.  This form includes information about your doctors, hospital visits and medications.  You should only include treatment information for the time that you have been unable to work.  Social Security contacts the doctors and hospitals you provide in the Disability Report.  If you don’t provide complete information, Social Security may not get important medical records.  This could end up resulting in Social Security denying your claim. 

Non-medical evidence for SSDI:  Work History Report

Social Security requires information about your work history going back 15 years.  You should provide a clear description of each of your past jobs.  Social Security could deny your case if they don’t categorize your past work accurately.  Social Security can deny you for not returning the work history report forms. 

Non-medical evidence for SSDI:  Function Reports

Social Security needs to understand how your conditions impact your daily functioning.  Therefore, they send you a Function Report to complete.  This form asks you to describe how you perform normal daily activities.  It is important to describe any problems you have or any assistance you need for your daily activities. 

Medical Evidence for SSDI

Your medical evidence should include records only for the period of time that you became disabled and unable to work.  Your treatment should also be continuous and ongoing.  Medical evidence can include:

  • Firstly, Treatment notes and physical examinations
  • Secondly, Imaging such as MRIs, x-rays, CT scans or nerve testing
  • Thirdly, Blood work or biopsy results
  • Fourthly, Pulmonary tests
  • Lastly, Mental health records

Example 1: medical evidence for SSDI

For example, Kelly injured her neck in a car accident.  She required a cervical spinal fusion surgery.  Despite surgery, she continued to have severe pain and difficulty moving her neck.  She also still had problems using her hands due to numbness and tingling.  Kelly sees her doctors regularly for her symptoms.  Her records include x-rays, MRIs and nerve testing documenting her neck impairments.  Her doctors also continue to note limited range of motion and decreased sensation and strength in her arms and hands in their office notes.  Kelly provided proof through her medical records that her conditions caused a serious problem using her arms and hands.  As a result, Social Security approved Kelly’s claim. 

Medical evidence for SSDI from specialists

The type of treatment you receive can also impact your disability claim.  Often, records kept by specialists record your symptoms and problems better than a primary doctor.  They focus on specific information that Social Security needs to approve your disability benefits.  This can include special tests or examinations.  This can especially be true for any mental health impairments.  Generally, receiving medication from your primary doctor will not be enough to document your mental health conditions.  

Example 2:  medical evidence from specialists 

As an example, Julie suffers from anxiety and panic attacks.  Her panic attacks happen unexpectedly.  She receives medication from her psychiatrist.  She also sees a therapist regularly.  However, she still suffers from panic attacks many times during the day.  She has even had to go the emergency room during her panic attacks.  Her panic attacks make it hard for her to finish things she starts.  At times, her panic attacks keep her from leaving the house.  Social Security finds that Julie would miss work a lot due to her panic attacks.  Therefore, Julie qualifies for disability benefits. 

Medical evidence for SSDI and RFC forms

Residual functional capacity (RFC) forms can help support your disability claim.  RFC forms explain how your symptoms impact your ability to work.  An RFC form can include both mental and physical limitations. 

Physical RFC forms

A physical RFC form includes questions about your ability to do things like:

  • How long  you can sit, stand or walk at one time or in an 8 hour work day
  • How much weight you can lift or carry
  • If you need an assistive device such as a cane, walker, wheelchair or crutches
  • Using your arms and hands for activities such as reaching, pushing, pulling, gripping or grasping objects
  • If pain, fatigue, other symptoms or side effects from medications cause limitations with concentration, persistence or pace

Mental RFC forms

A mental RFC form includes questions about your ability to do things like:

  • Your ability to understand, remember or carry out instructions, interact with others such as supervisors, co-workers or the general public
  • Your ability to maintain attention and concentration
  • If your symptoms interfere with your ability to show up to work, arrive on time or have to leave early

Example 3:  medical evidence and RFC forms

For example, say you are under the age of 50 and worked before as a waitress.  You have a back injury that interferes with your ability to do this type of work.  You also have side effects from your medications that make you drowsy.  In an RFC form, your doctor states that you cannot sit for more than 3hours or stand or walk for more than 2 hours in a work day.  Your doctor also states that you have problems with attention and focus due to your medications.  These limitations help support your disability claim because it shows that you could not work a full 8 hour day. 

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What is a Residual Functional Capacity Form?

What is a Residual Functional Capacity Form? Residual functional capacity (RFC) forms can help support your Social Security disability claim.  RFC forms explain how your symptoms impact your ability to perform work activities.  Social Security does not award benefits on your diagnosis alone.  Therefore, you must show that your medical conditions keep you from being able to work. 

What is my residual functional capacity?

Residual functional capacity (RFC) is defined as the most you can do despite your medical impairments.  An RFC can include both mental and physical limitations.  Your RFC is very important.  First, Social Security looks at whether your condition meets one of the medial listings.  Most conditions won’t be severe enough to meet one of the medical listings.  Therefore, Social Security needs to look at your residual functional capacity.   

How does Social Security use residual functional capacity forms?

An RFC form helps Social Security understand how your conditions impact your ability to perform activities. The forms are used by SSA’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office to process your claim.  A Social Security medical consultant reviews your medical records.  They complete an RFC form based on the information they have.  Additionally, they will provide an explanation for their findings.  Next, Social Security looks at whether or not your RFC lets them approve your claim. 

Physical Residual Functional Capacity forms

A physical RFC form includes questions about your ability to do things like:

  • How long  you can sit, stand or walk at one time or in an 8 hour work day
  • How much weight you can lift or carry
  • If you need an assistive device such as a cane, walker, wheelchair or crutches
  • Using your arms and hands for activities such as reaching, pushing, pulling, gripping or grasping objects
  • If pain, fatigue, other symptoms or side effects from medications cause limitations with concentration, persistence or pace

Mental Residual Functional Capacity Forms

A mental RFC form includes questions about your ability to do things like:

  • Your ability to understand, remember or carry out instructions or interact with others such as supervisors, co-workers or the general public
  • Your ability to maintain attention and concentration
  • If your symptoms interfere with your ability to show up to work, arrive on time or have to leave early

Residual Functional Capacity forms for your doctors

Your treating doctors may also complete an RFC form.  Having your doctor complete an RFC form can be very helpful.  After all, they should know more about your health than anyone else.  An RFC form should be very detailed.  It should include all your medical symptoms and conditions.  It should also include all of your treatment and any side effects from medications. 

The importance of residual functional capacity forms

Social Security considers more than just your diagnosis.  They need to understand how your conditions affect your functioning.  Therefore, even if you think your medical evidence is strong, RFC forms can help strengthen your case.  Many times, medical records do not clearly translate how your symptoms impact your functioning.  Specifically, your doctor’s RFC form can:

  • Provide your treating doctor’s opinion about how significantly your conditions impact your functioning
  • Provide your doctor’s opinion in the specific way Social Security evaluates functioning
  • Can help win your disability case especially if you are appearing before an Administrative Law Judge

How a residual functional capacity form can help win your case

Social Security considers your age, education and work background when evaluating your claim.  If you are under the age of 50, you must show that you cannot work at all.  Social Security will consider other types of work, not just the work you have done in the past.  An RFC form can help explain why you may not be able to work on a full time basis.

Example 1: Residual functional capacity forms

For example, say you are under the age of 50 and worked before as a cashier.  You have a back injury that interferes with your ability to do this type of work.  You also have side effects from your medications that make you drowsy.  In an RFC form, your doctor states that you cannot sit for more than 4 hours or stand or walk for more than 2 hours in a work day.  Your doctor also states that you have problems with attention and focus due to your medications.  These limitations help support your disability claim because it shows that you could not work a full 8 hour day. 

Residual functional capacity forms and the Grid Rules

Social Security recognizes that it may be harder for older individuals to learn new work.  Therefore, there are more favorable rules for people 50 or older.  These rules are known as the Grid Rules.  They are even more favorable if you are 55 or older.  Essentially, the Grid Rules consider your age, education and work background.  If Social Security finds that you can’t go back to work you’ve done in the past 15 years, you might be disabled. 

Example 2: Residual functional capacity forms and the Grid Rules

For example, Ellen, a 53 year old woman previously worked as a cashier.  She filed for disability because she developed osteoarthritis in her knees.  She can no longer stand or walk for long periods of time.  In an RFC form, her doctor stated that shecould not stand or walk for more than 2 hours a day but can sit for at least 6 hours a day.  Her doctor also reported that she needed a cane when walking.  She cannot work as a cashier.  Even though she can do seated work, the Grid Rules allowed Social Security to approve her case. 

Example 3:  Residual functional capacity forms and the Grid Rules

In another example, Adam, a 57 year old, previously worked as a janitor.  His job required him to lift and carry over 50 pounds occasionally.  Adam injured his back and can no longer perform his job duties.  In an RFC form, Adam’s doctor reported that Adam could not lift more than 20 pounds.  He also reported that Adam could only stand or walk for 4 hours a day.  Even though Adam could do other work, the Grid Rules allowed Social Security to approve his case. 

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

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Is Osteoporosis a Disability?

Posted on by Ken LaVan

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to be porous and fragile.  This can cause the bones to break easily. 

Osteoporosis happens when your bones become less able to make new bone as quickly as the old bone breaks down.  Osteoporosis can be considered a disability if it prevents you from working.

Who Usually Develops Osteoporosis?

Anyone can develop osteoporosis.  However, there are certain risk factors that can increase your likeliness to develop osteoporosis.  These risk factors can include:

  • Sex – more women than men get osteoporosis
  • Age – you are at higher risk to develop osteoporosis the older you are
  • Diet – low calcium levels, anorexia and weight loss surgery can increase your risk
  • Lifestyle – you are at higher risk if you sit around a lot, drink a lot of alcohol or use tobacco
  • Medications

In early stages, osteoporosis often does not have any signs or symptoms.  However, in more advanced stages, osteoporosis can cause:

  • Loss of height
  • Changes in posture
  • Back pain

Typically, osteoporosis alone will not qualify you for Social Security benefits.  However, there are symptoms and related health problems that might affect your ability to work.

Evidence needed for your osteoporosis diagnosis

Medical evidence includes your doctor’s treatment notes, test results and imaging.

  • Difficulty or an inability to ambulate effectively, such as your ability to walk reasonable distances or to use stairs
  • The need for an assistive device such as a cane, walker, or crutches
  • Any pain with movement of your bones or joints
  • Problems using your hands
  • Difficulty traveling places without assistance
  • Difficulty performing activities of daily living such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, using public transportation, bathing or getting dressed

Specific tests related to osteoporosis include:

  • Bone mineral density test.  This tests the strength of your bones.  It can also be called a DXA scan. 
  • Blood tests that include
    • Calcium levels,
    • Thyroid levels,
    • Vitamin D levels,
    • Alkaline Phosphatase,
    • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or
    •  Parathyroid (PTH)

Treatment for Osteoporosis

Treatment for osteoporosis can include medications and lifestyle changes.It is important that your doctor document side effects from medications response to medication surgeries or procedures related to fractures related medical complications

Listings of Medical Impairments

This is also known as the “Blue Book.”  Osteoporosis is not one of the medical impairments included in the Blue Book.  However, you might match a listing under another section.

Since osteoporosis can cause your bones to break easily, Listings 1.06 and 1.07 might apply.  These listings provide specific criteria for fractures or broken bones in the upper and lower body.  

osteoporosis due to other conditions such as cancer, thyroid disorders

If you have one of these conditions, you might match the listings under 9.00 for endocrine disorders.These include:

  • Pituitary gland disorders
  • Thyroid gland disorders
  • Parathyroid gland disorders
  • Adrenal gland disorders
  • Diabetes and other pancreatic gland disorders, including
    • Hyperglycemia (high levels of glucose),
    • Hypoglycemia (low levels of glucose) and
    • Diabetic ketoacidosis

What if your osteoporosis does not meet the Blue Book listings?

You can still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you do not meet the Blue Book listings.  However, you must show that your osteoporosis keeps you from working. 

Social Security will need to assess your residual functional capacity (RFC.)  Your RFC is what you can do despite your medical conditions.   Your doctor can help clarify your RFC by providing certain information about your osteoporosis. 

For example, you may need to use extreme caution performing certain activities due to a higher risk of breaking your bones, such as bending or lifting.  You may have problems standing, walking or sitting for long periods of time due to joint pain, especially in your back, hips, knees or ankles. 

You may also have difficulty reaching, grasping or holding items because of joint pain in your hands or arms. 

Your doctor can help explain these limitations in an RFC form.  Your doctor should be specific with any limitations related to these activities.  They should include:

  • How long you can sit, stand or walk at one time or in an eight hour day
  • Maximum weight you can lift or carry
  • How frequently you can use your arms and hands
  • Your pain levels
  • Side effects from medications

You want to provide as much documentation and records as possible related to your osteoporosis.  You should see your doctor consistently and continue to have regular testing for your osteoporosis. 

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. If you have already applied for SSI or SSDI, call immediately to make sure your case is still pending and was filed correctly. You may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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