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Is My Lifestyle “Too Active” to Qualify Me for Disability Benefits?

Posted by on in Already Applied for Disability Benefits

disability benefits,  Chicago Social Security attorney,  mental impairments, disability cases, documented medical conditionSocial Security officials often have difficulty distinguishing a person's limited ability to perform basic household chores with the physical or mental capacity to hold down a full-time job. Indeed, Social Security administrative law judges will often cite daily activities as definitive proof that an applicant is not really disabled and therefore not entitled to benefits. Yet federal courts have repeatedly told Social Security that is not how the law works.

Attending Concerts and Dating a Man Insufficient Grounds to Reject Disability Claim

The most recent example of this came in a December 28 opinion issued by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. The Seventh Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over disability cases arising throughout Illinois. In this particular case, a woman suffering from a variety of physical and mental impairments was told by an ALJ she was not legally disabled. Social Security said the ALJ's findings were not supported by sufficient evidence and ordered the agency to conduct a new hearing.

The crux of the problem was the ALJ discredited the applicant's testimony regarding her impairments based on her supposedly “very active” lifestyle. In reviewing the record, the Seventh Circuit said the evidence did not “remotely” support that conclusion. Instead, the ALJ made several “impermissible inferences” based on superficial examples of the applicant's daily activities.

For instance, the ALJ cited the fact the applicant “attended two concerts in 2013” as well as a handful of family and social events as proof that she was “active.” But the Seventh Circuit said these limited interactions were “not indicative of a high level of social or physical activity.” Nor was the fact she could perform simple household chores like making the bed or unloading a dishwasher. While daily activities “may be used to discredit a claimant's testimony,” the Seventh Circuit said the ALJ must still explain why such activities are “inconsistent” with an applicant's medical symptoms. The ALJ did not do that here.

Instead, the ALJ focused on other minutiae, such as the fact the applicant “spent some time with” a man as somehow discrediting all of her testimony regarding her physical and mental impairments. More alarmingly, the appeals court said the ALJ did not consider the applicant's “daily extended naps and frequent debilitating headaches” as proof of her limitations. After all, a person who needs to take a 2-hour nap every day is going to have serious difficulty holding down a full-time job.

How Can a Chicago Disability Benefits Attorney Help You?

Disability means you are medically unable to work. It does not mean you are a total invalid or shut-in. As the Seventh Circuit said in the case above, “Attending concerts and family functions and spending some time with a man does not show that [a person] is able to work, travel, or use public transportation.”

If you are unable to work due to a documented medical condition and need assistance from a qualified Chicago Social Security attorney, contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, at 312-999-0999 today.


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