What procedure does an administrative law judge have to follow in a hearing to decide if you're disabled and unable to maintain employment? My name is Scott Rubin. I'm an attorney at Rubin & Badame, and for over 20 years, we've represented many people with claims for social security. We have done hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of hearings.
A medically determinable impairment
The answer to the question above is that there is a certain ruling that the judges must follow. It's 16-3P. The first thing a judge must decide is if there is a medically determinable impairment. That's an impairment that could reasonably be expected to cause the symptoms that are responsible for the complaint.
The importance of consistency
Once there is a medically determinable impairment, the judge must consider both the medical and non-medical evidence in deciding the intensity and persistence of the symptoms. And when a judge decides that, they often look at the consistency of the case.
That includes the medical evidence, the history of treatment, the history of tests, MRIs, EMGs, the history of what the claimant has said to his or her doctor, the consistency of the medications the doctors prescribed, and the consistency of the statements that the doctor has said about the claimant.
Consistency is extremely important. The administrative law judge then must decide if the claimant can return to any of his work that the claimant performed full-time in the last 15 years. And if not, can the claimant maintain any work, not just getting a job, but is the claimant able to maintain work?
The role of age
If the claimant is younger than 50 years old, the judge must decide whether the claimant, based on the evidence, is able to maintain any work. Be it heavy work, medium, light, or sedentary work sitting at a desk. Once an individual is 50 years old, the judge must decide if the claimant is limited to a sedentary type of job. And if so, can the claimant return to any of his or her past work. And is that work that the claimant did before transferable to another position?
Once the claimant is 55, even if the judge decides the claimant can perform light work, lifting 20 pounds, if the claimant cannot return to any of his past relevant work that he's done within 15 years, and that the past work is not readily transferrable to another job, the claimant should be approved.
What you should keep in mind
Every case with Social Security is very different and very demanding. The best chance of getting approved for Social Security Disability is to hire a reputable attorney with a tremendous amount of experience.