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IL disability lawyerWhen a person applies for Social Security disability benefits, there are many different factors that are considered to determine whether the person is considered to be disabled. A person must suffer from a physical or mental impairment that is “medically determinable,” and this condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months. An impairment must also affect a person’s ability to find gainful employment.

If a Social Security disability claim is denied, an applicant may appeal this decision, and an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may be held to review the case and determine whether the person is disabled. An ALJ will follow a multi-step process to evaluate the person’s claim, and one important step in this process is determining whether the claimant’s condition meets or equals any of the items included in the Listing of Impairments in the Social Security Code of Regulations.

Magistrate Reverses ALJ’s Decision Based on Improper Analysis of Listing of Impairments

One recent case in Illinois demonstrates the role that the Listing of Impairments may play in an administrative hearing. In Angela L. H. v. Commissioner of Social Security, a woman’s disability claim had been denied, and after appealing this decision, the ALJ who reviewed the case determined that she was not disabled, since her impairments permitted her to find work other than what she had previously performed.

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"Can I receive disability benefits for being obese and what BMI do I need to get it?"

Over a decade ago, 1999 to be exact, the Social Security Administration ("SSA") decided to get rid of Listing 9.09: Obesity. The Administration stated that the listing did not do a good job of demonstrating work limitations. My guess is that there was also an abuse in the system, which SSA tried to remedy. Instead of modifying the rule however, they decided to completely delete it.

Despite getting rid of Listing 9.09, obesity must be considered under SSR 02-1p: Policy Interpretation Ruling Titles II and XVI: Evaluation of Obesity. Most notably, obesity can determine whether: an individual has a medically determinable impairment, severe impairment, if the individual's impairment meets or equals a listing, or prevents him or her from doing past relevant work and other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.

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