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Chicago, IL Social Security disability benefit claim lawyerOne of the keys to prevailing in a Social Security disability case is demonstrating how your physical or mental limitations make it impossible for you to hold down a job. For their part, Social Security officials are required to assess the applicant's residual functional capacity (RFC), which takes into account of all of the available medical evidence, including the applicant's own testimony regarding his or her limitations. While Social Security is not required to accept or give equal weight to all such evidence, the agency must provide a logical explanation supporting its ultimate conclusions.

Magistrate: Social Security Failed to Explain Reasons for Denying Claim

Far too often, Social Security fails in this basic task. For example, on September 17, 2018, a federal magistrate judge ordered Social Security to conduct a new hearing in the case of a disability applicant from Illinois. The applicant first applied for disability nearly five years ago. She claims she has been unable to work since 2008 due to “two generated or herniated discs and possible sciatica,” according to court records.

Following a hearing, a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) held that the applicant did not qualify as legally disabled. The ALJ reached this conclusion after performing an RFC assessment that found that the applicant's physical limitations did not prevent her from working. After Social Security's internal appeals process upheld the ALJ's decision, the applicant sought judicial review.

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arthritis, RFC, Chicago SSDI lawyerIn previous posts we have explained how arthritis may qualify you for Social Security Disability insurance benefits and why it is not enough to simply claim you are unable to work due to arthritis without supporting evidence. An important consideration for Social Security when assessing a disability claim is how arthritis, taken in combination with all of an applicant’s medical disorders, affects his or her “residual functional capacity,” or RFC—that is, their ability to work taking into account all such limitations. An RFC assessment is critical to a disability case, yet many Social Security officials fail to follow the law in this area.

Are You Capable of Even Performing “Sedentary” Work?

A Social Security claims examiner typically performs an RFC assessment for each applicant. The applicant may also ask his or her own treating physician to complete an independent RFC assessment. This is generally a good idea as your own doctor will have a much better understanding of your medical history and functional limitations than a government bureaucrat.

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