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Does Trading Stocks Online Mean I Am Not Disabled?

 Posted on April 04, 2019 in Social Security Disability

IL disability lawyerSocial Security officials will often cite a person's ability to perform certain basic tasks as “proof” they are not entitled to disability benefits. But the whole point of disability is that a person lacks the physical or mental capacity to work full-time, which is not the same thing as, say, being able to use a computer a few minutes a day.

Magistrate: Casual Activities Does Not Prove Disability Applicant Can Sit All Day

A recent Social Security disability case from here in Illinois offers a helpful example of what we are talking about. In this case, the plaintiff applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in 2012. Following a hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) denied the application. The plaintiff then asked a federal court to reverse the ALJ's decision and order a new hearing.

In a March 2019 opinion, a federal magistrate granted the plaintiff's request. The magistrate cited a couple of reasons for her decision. Of interest here is one argument raised by Social Security–that the plaintiff was capable of performing “full-time sedentary work” based on the fact he admitted to trading stocks online while supposedly disabled.

A key part of the plaintiff's disability claim was that, due to his physical impairments, he could not sit or stand for an extended period of time during what would be considered a typical workday. The Social Security ALJ rejected that claim as inconsistent with the evidence, in part because “online trading and reading” were activities one performed while sitting.

But the magistrate said found that line of reasoning dubious. The magistrate noted it was unclear from the plaintiff's testimony whether he “performed these activities while sitting, or how long he had to sit to do them.” The plaintiff testified he did not spend much time researching stocks personally; rather, he simply relied on “information he had gleaned while watching television.” And it was not clear if the plaintiff was “sitting up or laying down” while watching television, for that matter.

The point is that the ALJ improperly relied on the plaintiff's so-called “trading activities” as proof he could still work full-time in a job that required sitting all day for multiple days at a time. For this and other reasons, the magistrate said the plaintiff was entitled to a new hearing on his application for disability benefits.

Speak with a Chicago Social Security Disability Attorney Today

Casual online stock trading is just one of many “daily activities” that Social Security cannot exclusively rely upon to rule a person is not disabled. For instance, the fact you can prepare simple meals or dress yourself does not demonstrate you can work in a full-time job, no matter what an ALJ might think. Unfortunately, Social Security needs to be reminded of this common-sense principle time and again. This is why it is useful to have an experienced Chicago disability lawyer representing you before an ALJ, and if necessary in court on appeal. Call Pearson Disability Law, LLC, at 312-999-0999 today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.




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