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How Is the Dictionary of Occupational Titles Used in Social Security Disability Cases?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

IL disability attorneyIf you have suffered an injury or illness that has made it impossible for you to return to work, you may be able to receive disability benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, to receive these benefits, you will usually need to show that you have suffered a physical or mental impairment that has caused you to be unable to participate in “substantial gainful activity.” Your eligibility for benefits will usually be based on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE) who will offer an opinion on whether there are jobs available that fit your level of skill and the types of work you are able to perform. One tool that a VE will use when offering an opinion is the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT).

Magistrate Rules on Use of DOT in Disability Cases

The Dictionary of Occupational Titles is a multi-volume book published by the U.S. Department of Labor. It provides descriptions of most jobs that are available in the United States and information about the requirements that are needed to perform each job, including reasoning ability, physical exertion, communication skills, education, and training. Since the DOT was last updated in 1999, it is not fully up to date, but it is still used by VEs to determine what jobs a person may be able to perform and whether these jobs are available to qualified workers.

One recent case that took place in the U.S. District Court of Illinois provides a good example of how the DOT is used in Social Security Disability Cases. In the case of Brian A. B. v. Commissioner of Social Security, the plaintiff had been denied disability benefits. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that even though he had degenerative disc disease in the lumbar region and degenerative joint disease in the shoulder, he was able to do sedentary work while being limited to frequent reaching in all directions except overhead.

The plaintiff appealed the ALJ’s ruling based on claims that there were conflicts between the testimony of a VE and the information in the DOT. The VE testified that the plaintiff could do the job of a “document preparer,” which requires frequent reaching. The DOT does not specify whether this job involves overhead reaching, but the VE stated that based on her experience and information from a recent occupational requirement survey, the plaintiff’s limitations would not affect his ability to find work in this profession.

The appeals court, upon reviewing the case, found that there was no conflict between the VE’s opinions and the DOT. If the DOT does not address an issue, a VE is allowed to provide supplemental information based on their professional opinion. Because of this, the court affirmed the ALJ’s denial of the plaintiff’s disability benefits.

Contact Our Chicago Disability Claim Appeals Lawyer

This case shows the importance of providing the right information and making the right arguments when appealing the denial of Social Security Disability benefits. At Pearson Disability Law, LLC, we can help you take the right steps to show that you qualify for disability benefits, and we will provide the legal help and representation you need during your case. Contact our Cook County Social Security disability attorney at 312-999-0999 to set up your free consultation today.

Source:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16745657755139508468

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/oalj/topics/libraries/LIBDOT

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