Have you ever considered a career as a potato chip sorter? Or a feather renovator? If so, finding work would be quite challenging since these jobs no longer exist in today’s employment market. Yet, thousands of people are denied disability benefits based on an obsolete directory used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine whether applicants are able to work. The vocational evaluation is only one of the many roadblocks on the long and often twisty road to obtaining needed benefits. However, an experienced Social Security attorney can help you receive the money you deserve, whether you have received a denial or are applying for the first time.
HOW DOES SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSD) WORK?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits for people who are no longer able to work due to a long-term disability caused by an illness or injury. These are known as Social Security Disability (SSD), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI).
While this money can be a lifeline for individuals who are no longer able to work, the application and approval process is notoriously lengthy and complex, with strict eligibility criteria.
To qualify, the following conditions must apply:
- The person must be unable to work because of a medically diagnosed physical or mental condition on the SSA-approved list.
- The condition must have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months or longer or result in death.
In addition, applicants must undergo a vocational evaluation to determine what, if any, work they are able to perform. The SSA typically denies benefits to individuals deemed capable of working, either in their previous profession or a different field of employment.
The problem is that the SSA denies thousands of applicants based on an obsolete occupational directory created 85 years ago. Furthermore, since the reference volume was last updated in the 1970s, many of the jobs have disappeared due to manufacturing advances, outsourcing and other factors.
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WHAT IS THE DICTIONARY OF OCCUPATIONAL TITLES?
The SSA bases many of its vocational evaluations on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), a comprehensive volume created in 1938 by the U.S. Department of Labor. Although this hefty tome contains more than 12,700 job entries, most of the listings have not been updated in more than 30 years, when the Department of Labor stopped using it due to its outdated contents.
Nevertheless, a Washington Post investigation revealed several examples of applicants with severe disabilities whose claims were rejected because a vocational assessment concluded there were jobs these individuals could perform. In each case, these employment “experts” used the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to recommended jobs that no longer exist, including sorting nut meats and addressing cards by hand or typewriter. Alarmingly, the judges heeded these dubious determinations and denied benefits to people who desperately needed them.
Furthermore, the SSA continues to rely on the obsolete Dictionary of Occupational Titles instead of utilizing an interactive database of current jobs recently created by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Recommended reading: Why You Shouldn’t Pay For A Social Security Disability Lawyer Until You Win
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CLAIM WAS DENIED?
Unfortunately, approximately 70 percent of all first-time claims are denied, even for applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. While rejections are issued for a variety of reasons, incomplete documentation, particularly medical records, is a major reason. This is one of many reasons why it pays to hire a qualified Social Security attorney to help with the application process.
Luckily, the approval rate for appeals is much higher, closer to 60 percent for cases heard by an administrative law judge. However, research shows individuals represented by an experienced disability lawyer have a higher success rate than those who try to go it alone.
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OUR EXPERIENCED SOCIAL SECURITY ATTORNEYS CAN HELP YOU RECEIVE THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE
Whether your claim has been denied or you are applying for the first time, we can help. Our knowledgeable Social Security lawyers understand the complex system of laws that determine which applicants are approved for disability benefits.
“We have helped thousands of clients receive the benefits they deserve even when their initial claims were rejected,” said Mark Bernstein, Co-CEO of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm, and we don’t collect a dime until your case is resolved.”
Social Security Disability law is complicated, but finding the right Michigan disability attorney is simple.
If you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits for the first time, or if your initial claim has been denied, contact us today.
Select the button below to fill out a short form, or call 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety and comfort of your home.