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Can a Person’s Daily Activities Affect Their Eligibility for Disability Benefits?

 Posted on April 23, 2021 in Denied Social Security Benefits

IL disability lawyerThere are multiple different types of conditions that can affect a person’s ability to work and earn an income. Fortunately, Social Security disability benefits can provide much-needed financial assistance in these cases. However, disability claims may be denied for a variety of different reasons. When appealing a denial of disability benefits, a person’s case will be reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ may consider multiple different forms of evidence when determining whether a person is disabled, and one issue that they may consider is whether the daily activities a person performs demonstrate that they are or are not disabled.

Magistrate Overturns ALJ’s Decision Based on Improper Consideration of Subjective Symptoms

A recent decision in Illinois courts illustrates the role that a person’s daily activities may play in an ALJ’s determination of whether a person is disabled. In the case of Steven L. v. Saul, the plaintiff was a 49-year-old man who suffered from chronic liver disease, asthma, neuropathy, and affective disorder. While the ALJ found that the plaintiff’s impairments made him incapable of resuming his past work as a neurologist, she ruled that he could work in jobs where he was limited to light work and simple, routine tasks.

The ALJ’s decision was based in part on the plaintiff’s ability to participate in daily activities, specifically noting that the plaintiff stated that he regularly engaged in driving, using a computer, and caring for his children. The ALJ determined that the plaintiff’s ability to participate in these types of activities undermined his claims that he suffered limitations that affected his ability to find or maintain employment.

The magistrate who heard the appeal noted that while an ALJ is allowed to consider a person’s daily activities, undue weight should not be placed on this type of evidence, since these types of activities do not necessarily translate into an ability to work full time. In addition, while the ALJ addressed daily activities, she did not properly consider the difficulties that the plaintiff encountered when performing these activities. While the plaintiff could drive, he had trouble sitting in a car without a break for more than one hour, and he mostly left the driving up to his wife. His computer use was mostly limited to online shopping, while his household chores only involved putting away laundry, and he required reminders from his wife to take medications and attend medical appointments.

Because the ALJ made her decision based on an improper consideration of the plaintiff’s reported activities, the magistrate reversed this decision. In addition, the ALJ incorrectly discounted testimony from the plaintiff’s wife because she was not a medical professional or knowledgeable about Social Security-related issues. The magistrate noted that a family member should not need medical training or familiarity with Social Security disability standards to testify regarding a person’s symptoms and daily activities.

Contact Our Chicago Social Security Disability Lawyer

If your Social Security disability claim has been denied, Pearson Disability Law, LLC can help you determine how to proceed. We will help you appeal this decision and present evidence to show that you are disabled and eligible to receive financial assistance. Contact our Illinois Social Security disability claim attorneys by calling 312-999-0999 and scheduling a free consultation.




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