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IL disability lawyerTo receive Social Security disability benefits, you will not only need to show that your physical or mental conditions have caused you to be unable to work in jobs you have previously done, but you will also need to demonstrate that you are unable to find gainful employment in positions that are available in the United States economy. In many cases, Social Security disability claims are denied because a vocational expert (VE) testifies that a person should be able to work in certain jobs that fit their physical or mental limitations. However, these denials may be made based on an improper consideration of the complexity of the work a person is able to perform.

Magistrate Overrules Denial of Benefits Based on Limitations Regarding One-to-Two Step Tasks

One recent case in Illinois courts addressed work limitations and the improper denial of benefits. In the case of Michael S. v. Commissioner of Social Security, the plaintiff had applied for Social Security disability benefits based on cognitive impairments such as memory loss, attention deficit disorder, and depression. After disability benefits were denied, the plaintiff appealed this decision, and the court ruled in his favor and remanded the case to the Commissioner of Social Security for reconsideration. After considering new evidence, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) again denied benefits, and the plaintiff appealed this decision as well.

The key issue in this appeal involved the opinions of two state agency psychologists stating that the plaintiff should be limited to one-to-two step tasks while at work. Based on the testimony of a medical expert, the ALJ rejected this limitation and found that the plaintiff could perform light work while being limited to tasks that involved simple decision-making.


Chicago Social Security disability lawyerAn intellectual disability can leave a person just as unable to work as a physical impairment or chronic illness. In many cases a person with a low IQ or who otherwise demonstrates “subaverage general intellectual functioning” may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits. But as is often the case with disability claims, Social Security officials tend to disregard evidence of an applicant’s intellectual impairments in a rush to deny benefits.

Social Security Thinks Adult With “Fourth Grade” Education Capable of Full-Time Work

In a recent case, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ordered Social Security to reconsider the disability claim of a woman in her 20s who suffers from a “serious intellectual disability.” According to the applicant’s mother, she has had severe learning difficulties since she was a toddler. The applicant’s IQ is believed to be between 70 and 75. (Social Security guidelines consider an IQ below 60 as absolute proof of an intellectual disability.)


major depressive disorder, Chicago Social Security Disability attorneyIn a previous post, we explained the clinical and legal definitions of major depressive disorder, a serious mental health condition that may qualify a person for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Today, we will look at how Social Security officials are required to assess depression and related mental health impairments in actually reviewing a claim for disability benefits—specifically, how major depressive disorder actually affects an applicant's ability to work.

Depression and Residual Functional Capacity

A person will not receive Social Security disability benefits simply because he or she suffers from depression. Social Security officials conduct a five-step analysis to determine whether an impairment (or combination of impairments) renders the applicant disabled. The fourth step requires an “assessment of your residual functional capacity and your past relevant work.” In other words, Social Security must determine whether or not you could return to your prior line of work despite the fact you suffer from major depressive disorder.


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