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b2ap3_thumbnail_Social-Security-Chicago.jpgIt is possible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for a closed period of time. In other words, Social Security may determine, based on your medical records and other evidence, that you were disabled for a certain period of time but are currently capable of working.

In deciding whether your disability continues or has ended, Social Security must prove there has been a “medical improvement as shown by a decrease in medical severity” of your impairments.

Social Security Confuses Applicant's Poverty With “Medical Improvement”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_worn-out-worker-rule-Chicago.jpgThere is an often overlooked qualification for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits called the “worn out worker” rule. This is technically known in the Social Security regulations as “medical-vocational profiles showing an inability to make an adjustment to other work.” The basic idea is that some older unskilled laborers lack sufficient education to adjust to a new field of employment; as a result, they may receive disability benefits even if they do not qualify under normal standards.

In a disability review, a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) must assess an applicant's “residual functional capacity,” that is his or her ability to perform work taking into account any physical or mental impairments. Social Security typically denies disability benefits if the RFC indicates the applicant can still do “lighter work.” However, if the applicant qualifies under the worn out worker rule, then he or she may be considered disabled regardless of the RFC.

The worn out worker rule has four basic qualifications:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_disability-benefits-lawyer-emphysema-Chicago.jpgWhile many Social Security Disability Insurance claims are assessed based on a number of subjective factors, there are certain objective standards that can establish a person's right to receive benefits. Social Security operates according to a detailed set of regulations that specify how an administrative law judge (ALJ) must assess particular disorders. At least that is how the system is supposed to work.

Social Security Misunderstands Its Own Emphysema Regulations

In practice, ALJs often play games with the regulatory standards, looking for any way to justify denying a legitimate claim. Consider a recent example in Illinois—a case which involves a common ailment often seen in disability cases: emphysema.

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