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Supreme Court to weigh-in on how SSDI is determined

Social Security Disability Insurance is determined by an often complicated process heavily dependent on established rules and regulations. The Social Security Administration also publishes manuals and handbooks to help its disability evaluators to reach a conclusion. There are multiple levels of appeal within the SSA and the federal court for those West Virginia applicants who are dissatisfied with the outcomes of their cases. Now, however, a rarity will occur; an SSDI case is to be heard before the Supreme Court in December 2018.

Most SSDI applicants believe their inability to work in jobs they held previously should qualify them for benefits. However, if such a finding is made, that determination alone is insufficient. If the claimant cannot return to past relevant work, he or she also must be unable to perform any other type of job that exists in ample numbers.

This evaluation is somewhat theoretical and relies on the testimony of a vocational expert who considers the claimant’s exertional limits, age, education and occupational history. This testimony is given during an administrative law hearing, the second stage of appeal in an SSDI case. The issue for the Supreme Court is whether the SSA administrative law judge can rely on the testimony of a vocational expert who refuses to provide the data backing up the opinion.

Statistically, more than half of initial applications for SSDI benefits are denied and a greater percentage is similarly rejected at reconsideration, the first level of appeal. However, the best chance a claimant has for success is at the administrative law hearing when represented by a Social Security disability lawyer.