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What are Social Security Disability GRID rules?

The Social Security Administration has composed what is known as the "blue book." In it, a person can find listings of all qualified medical conditions and corresponding criteria that must be met in order to be approved for Social Security Disability. However, many claimants do not present with circumstances that qualify for approval based on medical conditions alone. This does not mean that a claim cannot be approved, but rather that it must be put through a medical-vocational qualification process known as GRID rules.

GRID rules provide a set of guidelines through which a disability claim can be assessed as a whole, as opposed to assessing it based on medical conditions alone. Other factors to be considered are a claimant's age, vocational profile including education and acquired skills, and whether any of those skills would be transferable to lighter jobs. In addition, a claimant's residual function capacity will be taken into account.

Often, the Social Security Administration will send a claimant to a designated doctor for a consultative examination. The role of that physician is to determine how well a claimant can function regarding movements such as bending, stooping, kneeling, and climbing, as well as factors such as ability to sit or stand for long periods of time or lift and carry certain weights. These determinations set the standard for the level of work a person may be able to perform in their current condition. Those levels are referred to as sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy.

GRID rules consolidate all of this information in order to allow a judge to make a disability decision based on a whole picture. Claimants who are age 50 or older who possess a steady work history have a much higher probability of receiving approval. Based on grid rules, older claimants often "GRID out", meaning that they have reached an advanced age where, combined with medical conditions, sustainable work is no longer possible. A Social Security disability attorney can assist in preparing and presenting a case based on GRID rules for the best possible outcome.

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