What are “Grids”?
If a person applying for disability benefits in San Francisco is found to be unable to return to their past work, then the next question is whether they can do any other work. If the claimant CAN do other work then they will not be disabled. If they CANNOT do any other work, then they will be found disabled under Social Security’s rules.
To answer this question Social Security looks to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, or “Grids” to see where a claimant falls in regard to the combination of their:
- Past Relevant Work
- Residual Functional Capacity
Those who fall into certain combinations are found to be automatically disabled. For example a person who (1) is between the ages of 56-60, (2) has less than a high school education, (3) has past work that was unskilled and (4) can only do a desk would automatically be found disabled per the Grids
The first part that will be covered is how age factors into this equation. The older a person is, the less likely it is that Social Security will find that they can do other work. Think of the adage: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. In this way, Social Security has a lower expectation that an older person will be able to a job that is different from their past work. So for Social Security purpose claimants, being older works in their favor because it make it easier to fall into a “Grid” that finds them disabled.
- For example, someone who is over the age of 50 can be found disabled, even if there are other jobs available for them. If you had a 50 year old person who was a laborer their entire life, they would be found disabled, even if they could do an easier desk job. However, anyone under the age of 50 would have to show that they cannot do any job whatsoever, in order to be found disabled. However, if someone who is under 50 could do an easier, desk job then they would not be found disabled and could not be awarded benefits.
This system takes out the guesswork and subjective discretion that can be present in other parts of the Social Security process. It is a more objective way to answer the question of whether a person can do other work. Of course, there are other finer points that come into play, but this is generally how the Grids work.
· The best way to ensure that your claim is handled properly is to hire an attorney. Your disability attorney will stay on top of all paperwork and requests from Social Security and make sure that all your medical records have been received. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.