Disability Associates approaches case processing in our own unique and highly effective way. Over many years of practice, we have discovered shortcuts within the Social Security process that promote efficiency without sacrificing the quality of representation. One of the case processing elements we approach differently is the Vocational Exertion Table or Grid.
The Grid is a vocational element or “table” used within the Social Security disability processes. It’s used as a guide in determining what client Residual Functional Capacity level is required to result in an allowance determination. The Grid also takes into consideration the claimant’s age, education and remaining transferability of skills in determining a particular case outcome.
There are two types of Grids. The exertion Grid is used to summarize the evaluation of a claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) with consideration of physical limitations like lifting, bending or sitting. The non- exertion Grid uses vocational factors associated with mental capabilities. Non-exceptional (mental) limitations stem from disorders in IQ, psychosis, the ability to follow instructions, navigate locations or respond appropriately to work-place hazards.
We think that using the Grid to predict case outcome is a useless handicap. The case outcome is either an allowance or a denial. As an advocate, you’re trying to promote an allowance decision so why focus on anything that doesn’t directly affect this outcome. An SSA allowance can only occur in one of two ways, meet or equal the listings or on medical vocational factors.
The Grid has no real power
A case decision is driven by the strength of the elements within the Grid, not by the Grid itself. Advocates have been quoting Grid numbers in case arguments for years, but it really doesn’t mean anything.
The Grid does not have the power to direct an SSA decision. It is used to suggest a case outcome not direct it. So the most important parts of the Grid are the elements used in coming to a decision. These Grid elements are a client’s RFC, age, education and work transferability.
An advocate cannot change a client’s age or level of education, but the remaining elements used by the Grid can be debated. As the applicant’s representative, it is your duty to create and promote an RFC that leads to a favorable outcome. This is done using the client’s medical evidence as the foundation of your Residual Functional Capacity.
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