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Is Social Security Required to Consider Limitations on My Ability to Perform Household Activities?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

IL disability lawyerSocial Security often tries to justify a denial of disability benefits based on an applicant's purported ability to still perform basic household tasks. For example, a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) may reason that since an applicant can still cook for themselves or clean their house despite having a crippling back injury, they must still be capable of working full-time.

Illinois judges have long cautioned Social Security against over-reliance on such “daily living” tasks to disprove disability claims. But there is also the problem of Social Security ignoring evidence regarding an applicant's inability to perform household activities to help prove their claims.

ALJ Failed to Consider Applicant's Difficulties with Daily Living

A recent decision from a federal judge here in Illinois offers a useful example of the latter problem. The plaintiff in this case first applied for disability benefits in 2014, alleging a number of mental impairments, including major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. After a hearing, a Social Security ALJ rejected the plaintiff's application, holding she could still perform certain jobs despite her limitations.

On appeal, the judge determined the plaintiff was entitled to a new hearing. One problem with the ALJ's decision, the judge said, was that it failed to properly consider the plaintiff's “limitations in concentration, persistence, or pace.” This is yet another common problem identified by multiple Illinois judges in recent years when it comes to Social Security.

But in addition to that, the judge also found the ALJ's decision did not properly evaluate the plaintiff's “statements about activities of daily living and whether those activities were consistent with the other evidence” supporting her disability claim. For example, the plaintiff testified she needed “several hours to prepare simple meals,” she could not shop for her own groceries, and she frequently required “additional time to perform household chores.”

The judge said the ALJ never mentioned any of this testimony, much less discussed its relevance to the plaintiff's overall disability case. This was not a “harmless” error, the judge said. Rather, it was a failure by the ALJ to follow Social Security regulations. As such, a new hearing was called for.

Contact Pearson Disability Law Today If You Need Help with Your Social Security Case

To be clear, when judges reverse Social Security decisions, that does not mean the plaintiff automatically receives disability benefits. Essentially, the case returns to Social Security and the hearing-and-appeals process starts over again. It often takes successful disability applicants several years before they start to receive benefits.

This is one reason, among many, why you need to work with a qualified Chicago Social Security disability attorney who understands this process. If you need help with your own Social Security case, call Pearson Disability Law, LLC, at 312-999-0999 today. There is no obligation and no upfront costs. We do not collect any attorney's fees unless we win on your behalf.

 

Source:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=17483635979502267276

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