September 21, 2014

Onset Dates, Consultative Exams and Cynical Judges

When you appear before a Social Security judge for a hearing, there are four possible outcomes:

  1. you will be approved
  2. you will be denied
  3. your case will be continued to another date for a supplemental hearing
  4. the judge will issue a “partially favorable” decision

GavelOver the past couple of years I have noticed an increase in the number of partially favorable decisions I am receiving.  I think this is because my clients, especially low income clients, do not have access to regular medical care and judges are using consultative exam reports to move the alleged onset dates.

Here is an example of what I mean:  a couple of weeks ago, I tried a case before a judge who is generally considered to be very reluctant to approve cases.  At the time of the hearing my client was a month shy of her 52nd birthday.  She had a 10th grade education and past work as a short order cook.  She alleged disability due to uncontrolled diabetes, numbness in her feet and hands, vision issues and pain.

She last worked 3 years previously, when she was 48 years old.

In reviewing this case, I saw it as a “grid rule” case.   Grid rule 201.10 provides that a 50 year old claimant with less than a high school education, semi-skilled work but no transferable skills who was limited to sedentary work due to an exertional limitation would qualify for disability. [Read more...]