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How Is a Listing of Impairments Used in a Social Security Disability Case?

 Posted on January 11, 2021 in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

IL disability lawyerWhen a person applies for Social Security disability benefits, there are many different factors that are considered to determine whether the person is considered to be disabled. A person must suffer from a physical or mental impairment that is “medically determinable,” and this condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months. An impairment must also affect a person’s ability to find gainful employment.

If a Social Security disability claim is denied, an applicant may appeal this decision, and an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may be held to review the case and determine whether the person is disabled. An ALJ will follow a multi-step process to evaluate the person’s claim, and one important step in this process is determining whether the claimant’s condition meets or equals any of the items included in the Listing of Impairments in the Social Security Code of Regulations.

Magistrate Reverses ALJ’s Decision Based on Improper Analysis of Listing of Impairments

One recent case in Illinois demonstrates the role that the Listing of Impairments may play in an administrative hearing. In Angela L. H. v. Commissioner of Social Security, a woman’s disability claim had been denied, and after appealing this decision, the ALJ who reviewed the case determined that she was not disabled, since her impairments permitted her to find work other than what she had previously performed.

The plaintiff appealed the ALJ’s decision, stating that he performed a “perfunctory and inaccurate” analysis when determining whether her impairment met or equaled the severity of a condition in the Listing of Impairments. Specifically, the ALJ stated that the evidence presented did not show that the plaintiff’s degenerative disk disease involved nerve root compression, spinal arachnoiditis, or lumbar spinal stenosis with pseudoclaudication. However, the plaintiff argued that medical records showed that her impairments met or equaled these listed impairments.

Upon review of the case, a U.S. court magistrate found that the ALJ did not cite any evidence to support his finding. While both the plaintiff and the Commissioner of Social Security provided arguments that “traced a path” from the evidence to their conclusions, the ALJ did not follow either of these paths or describe how he reached his own conclusions. An ALJ is required to provide a “logical bridge” between the evidence and their findings. Because the ALJ did not explain why the plaintiff did not meet or equal the conditions described in the Listing of Impairments, the magistrate granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and remanded the case to the Commissioner of Social Security for further proceedings in which the ALJ could adequately explain why the plaintiff is or is not disabled.

Contact Our Chicago Social Security Disability Appeals Lawyer

At Pearson Disability Law, LLC, we can help you determine your options for appealing a denial of disability benefits, and we will ensure that all evidence is considered correctly when determining whether your impairments meet the requirements for a disability claim. To learn how we can help you receive the benefits you need, contact an Illinois Social Security disability claim attorney at 312-999-0999 to set up your free consultation.



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