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Illinois Social Security disability claim lawyerThere is a common misunderstanding with respect to disability insurance. When considering your application for disability benefits, Social Security does not just evaluate whether or not you are medically able to perform your past work. It must decide whether you are capable of performing any type of sustained work. This distinction is often used as reasoning to deny benefits to an applicant.

Judge Orders Social Security to Reconsider Disabled Truck Driver's Claim

An applicant's failure to completely understand the law, however, does not in and of itself justify denying disability benefits. This point was hit home by a recent decision from a federal judge here in Illinois. In this case, King v. Berryhill, the plaintiff previously worked as a truck driver. He stopped working in 2008 due to chronic back pain, for which he did not seek treatment until six years later. In 2014, the plaintiff's treating physician diagnosed him with “severe lumbar degeneration” and several related conditions. 

At a 2016 hearing before a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ), the plaintiff testified that he continued to suffer from chronic pain, and that therapy and ibuprofen provided only a modest amount of temporary relief. The ALJ nevertheless ruled that the plaintiff did not qualify as legally disabled.

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generalized anxiety disorder, Cook County Social Security attorney, denied disability claim, disability applicant, major depressive disorderDealing with anxiety and doubt is common. However, for some people, anxiety is an all-consuming fear that affects their ability to function in society. Known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), this type of illness is a serious mental health impairment and may qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits.

ALJ Improperly Holds Applicant's Inability to Afford Mental Health Treatment Against Her

Unfortunately, there is often a stigma associated with GAD and similar mental health disorders that can lead Social Security officials to unfairly reject disability claims. Indeed, as one recent Illinois case illustrates, a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) may misinterpret a disability applicant's spotty employment history as “proof” that he or she is actually capable of working, without stopping to consider the overall impact of his or her anxiety disorder.

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Social Security Disability Insurance, Chicago disability benefits lawyer, disability applicant, chronic back pain, disability claimsOne of the most common reasons why people seek Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is they are simply in too much pain to keep working. When that pain has a clear medical explanation, you would think that should be enough to satisfy Social Security officials. Yet in far too many cases, agency officials simply dismiss “subjective” complaints of pain, even while acknowledging a disability applicant has a serious mental or physical impairment.

Judge Criticizes Social Security for “Selective” Misrepresentation of Evidence

Let us consider a recent decision by a federal judge in southern Illinois. The plaintiff is a woman in her mid-40s who first applied for disability benefits over five years ago. Previously, she worked as a customer service representative until her medical condition left her unable to sit all day.

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