Monthly Archives

March 2016

How Your Lowell Social Security Disability Lawyer Will Prepare Witnesses for Your Hearing

By English Blogs

How Your Lowell Social Security Disability Lawyer Will Prepare Witnesses for Your Hearing

Witnesses will have the opportunity to testify on your behalf at your disability hearing. Your Lowell Social Security disability lawyer will meet with your witnesses before the hearing so Lowell Social Security Disability Lawyerthat he may prepare them to testify effectively.

The Initial Meeting Between a Witness and Your Lowell Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyer

It will be important for you to give your Lowell Social Security disability lawyer all necessary contact information for any witnesses so that he may set up an initial interview with them. The interview process will be used to narrow down which witnesses will be best for your case.

Your Lowell Social Security Disability Lawyer Will Prepare Witnesses

At the preliminary interview, your attorney will also begin to prepare witnesses. It is important for them to present knowledgeable and relevant testimony without sounding rehearsed.

Your Lowell Social Security Disability Benefits Attorney Explains Good Testimony

Your attorney will prepare your witnesses by explaining to them that the judge wants to hear their observations about your daily activities and limitations. A witness that offers his conclusions to the judge about your impairment or the fact that you are disabled may do more harm than good.

Your Hearing

After preparing you and your witnesses, your Lowell Social Security disability lawyer will be by your side at the hearing to advocate for your needs and interests. Call Gerard A. Palma today at 888-295-4955 for more information.

Cómo un Abogado de Discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell Preparará Testigos para su Audiencia

By Spanish Blogs

Cómo un Abogado de Discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell Preparará Testigos para su Audiencia

Los testigos tendrán la oportunidad de atestiguar a su favor durante su audiencia de discapacidad. Su abogado para discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell se reunirá con sus testigos antes de la audiencia para que poder prepararlos para que atestigüen efectivamente.Abogado Para Discapacidad En Seguridad Social Lowell

La Reunión Inicial Entre un Testigo y su Abogado para Beneficios de Discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell

Será muy importante que le proporcione a su abogado para discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell toda la información de contacto necesaria de cualquier testigo para que él pueda organizar una entrevista inicial con ellos. El proceso de entrevista se utilizará para determinar cuáles testigos serán los más adecuados para su caso.

Su Abogado de Discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell  Preparará a sus Testigos

Durante la entrevista preliminar, su abogado también empezará a preparar a los testigos. Es importante que ellos presenten testimonio bien informado y relevante sin que suene ensayado.

Su Abogado de Beneficios de Discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell Explica lo que se Considera un buen Testimonio

Su abogado preparará a sus testigos explicándoles que el juez desea escuchar sus observaciones acerca de las actividades diarias y limitaciones de usted. Un testigo que ofrece sus conclusiones al juez acerca de su incapacidad o el hecho de que sea discapacitado podría hacer más daño que bien.

Su Audiencia

Después de prepararle a usted y a sus testigos, su Abogado de Discapacidad en Seguridad Social Lowell estará a su lado durante la audiencia para abogar por sus necesidades e intereses. Llame a Gerard A. Palma al 888-295-4955 hoy para más información.

Preguntas CFR

By Spanish Blogs

Preguntas CFR

A medida que transcurre el proceso de solicitud para los beneficios, usted y su abogado de incapacidad Lowell de Seguro Social va a discutir muchos aspectos que están involucrados enLowell de incapacidad del Seguro Social abogado este proceso. Un tema que es probable que se plantea es su CFR.

¿Qué es un CFR?

Su abogado Lowell de incapacidad del Seguro Social puede explicar que su capacidad funcional residual indica el nivel y el tipo de trabajo que es físicamente capaz de completar.

Preguntas sobre levantar y cargar

Su abogado Lowell de incapacidad del Seguro Social puede explicar que tal vez tengas que responder a una serie de preguntas acerca de levantar y cargar. Algunos ejemplos de estas preguntas son:

  •   Experiencia problemas cuando intenta de levantar o cargar objetos?
  •   Qué objetos usted ya no es capaz de levantar?
  •   Cuál es el objeto más pesado que usted lleva de manera rutinaria?
  •   Cuánto peso se puede levantar o cargar?
  •   Cómo puede levantar o cargar objetos?
  •   Cómo te afecta cuando intenta levantar o cargar objetos?

Limitación Postural

Usted También tendrá que responder si usted tiene alguna dificultad con torsión, flexión, de rodillas, agachase, subiendo o gateando.

Otras preguntas

También se le puede preguntar sobre su capacidad de manipular el cuerpo de otras maneras, tales como empujar, tirar, alcanzar objetos o sentir. Otra pregunta común es si usted completa actividades repetitivos de la mano de la mayor parte de un día de trabajo.

Si desea obtener más información acerca de las preguntas que pueden surgir en relación con su CRF, póngase en contacto con el abogado Lowell de incapacidad del Seguro Social, Gerard A. Palma, al 888-295-4955.

RFC Questions

By English Blogs

RFC Questions

As you go through the process of applying for benefits, you and your Lowell Social Security disability lawyer will discuss many aspects that are involved in this process. One topic that is likely to be raised is your RFC.Lowell Social Security disability lawyer

What is an RFC?

Your Lowell Social Security disability lawyer can explain that your Residual Functional Capacity indicates the level and type of work that you are physically capable of completing.

Questions About Lifting and Carrying

Your Lowell Social Security disability attorney can explain that you may have to answer a variety of questions regarding lifting and carrying. A few examples of these questions include:

  • Do you experience problems when you try to lift or carry objects?
  • What items are you no longer capable of lifting?
  • What is the heaviest item that you carry on a routine basis?
  • How much weight can you lift or carry?
  • How do you lift or carry objects?
  • How are you affected when you attempt to lift or carry objects?

Postural Limitations

You may also have to answer whether you have any difficulty with twisting, bending, kneeling, crouching, climbing or crawling.

Other Questions

You may also be asked about your ability to manipulate your body in other ways, such as pushing, pulling, reaching or feeling objects. Another common question is whether you complete repetitive hand activities for most of a work day.

If you would like more information about questions you might encounter regarding your RFC, contact Lowell Social Security disability lawyer, Gerard A. Palma, at 888-295-4955.

Inability to stoop

By Legal issues

Inability to Stoop and Social Security Disability

Although the Social Security rulings discussed below clearly provide that the complete inability to stoop significantly erodes the unskilled sedentary occupational base, the courts have not decided many Social Security disability cases pertaining to this issue. When presented with the applicable Rulings, the courts seem to agree that reliance on the Medical-Vocational Guidelines is improper and vocational expert testimony is required.

In most cases, however, the issue is never raised by the claimant. Please note that if a claimant can occasionally stoop, the unskilled sedentary occupational base is not eroded and vocational expert testimony is not necessary to establish disability based on the sedentary Medical-Vocational Guidelines. The following survey of cases does not include cases where a claimant failed to raise the issue of erosion of the sedentary occupational base due to the claimant’s complete inability to stoop.

Tip

If you are completely unable to stoop, your attorney should argue that the administrative law judge may not rely on the Grids if you are otherwise limited to sedentary work.

Rulings

Social Security Ruling 96-9p

SSR 96-9p provides that an ability to stoop occasionally, i.e., from very little up to one-third of the time, is required in most unskilled sedentary occupations. A complete inability to stoop significantly erodes the unskilled sedentary occupational base and usually results in a finding that the individual is disabled. Id.A restriction to occasional stooping only minimally erodes the unskilled occupational base of sedentary work. Id.“Consultation with a vocational resource may be particularly useful for cases where the individual is limited to less than occasional stooping.” Id.

Social Security Ruling 85-15

SSR 85-15 provides that stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling are progressively more strenuous forms of bending parts of the body, with crawling as a form of locomotion involving bending. Some stooping (bending the body downward and forward by bending the spine at the waist) is required to do almost any kind of work, particularly when objects below the waist are involved. If a person can stoop occasionally (from very little up to one-third of the time) in order to lift objects, the sedentary and light occupational base is virtually intact. However, because of the lifting required for most medium, heavy, and very heavy jobs, a person must be able to stoop frequently (from one-third to two-thirds of the time); inability to do so would substantially affect the more strenuous portion of the occupational base.

Social Security Ruling 83-10

A limitation in a claimant’s ability to stoop is considered a nonexertional impairment.

Social Security Ruling 83-14

According to SSR 83-14, two types of bending must be done frequently (from one-third to two-thirds of the time) in most medium, heavy, and very heavy jobs because of the positions of objects to be lifted, the amounts of weights to be moved, and the required repetitions. They are stooping (bending the body downward and forward by bending the spine at the waist) and crouching (bending the body downward and forward by bending both the legs and spine). However, to perform substantially all of the exertional requirements of most sedentary and light jobs, a person would not need to crouch and would need to stoop only occasionally (from very little up to one-third of the time, depending on the particular job).

Case Law

First Circuit

In Chester v. Callahan, 193 F.3d 10 (1st Cir. 1999), the First Circuit held that the ALJ erred in failing to consider the claimant’s bending limitation in determining whether the sedentary occupational base was eroded. Id. at 13. The court noted that the doctor’s RFC assessment indicated that the claimant never could bend, and the ALJ failed to address this limiting factor in his decision. Id.

Second Circuit

In Huhta, the court noted that the ability to perform the full range of sedentary work requires the ability to stoop occasionally, which means up to one-third of an 8-hour workday. Huhta v. Barnhart, 328 F. Supp.2d 377, 386 (W.D.N.Y. 2004), citing Social Security Ruling 96-9p. As the claimant’s treating and examining physicians all opined that the claimant could “never stand, walk, or stoop in an 8-hour workday” the court held that substantial evidence supported the conclusion that the claimant “had exertional and nonexertional limitations that precluded performance of the full range of sedentary work.” Id., citing SSR 96-9p (stating that “a complete inability to stoop would significantly erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base and a finding [of] disabled would usually apply . . .”) (emphasis in original).

A New York district court held that the ALJ committed legal error in failing to explain why he disregarded the RFC assessment of the claimant’s treating physician, who opined that the claimant could never climb, stoop, crouch, kneel or crawl, which are nonexertional limitations that significantly eroded his ability to perform sedentary work. Iannopollo v. Barnhart, 280 F. Supp.2d 41, 50 (W.D.N.Y. 2003). The court noted that, in accordance with SSR 96-9p, a “‘complete inability to stoop would significantly erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base and a finding that the individual is disabled would usually apply . . .’” Id.

Third Circuit

In Parker v. Barnhart, 244 F. Supp.2d 360 (D. Del. 2003), the claimant argued that the ALJ did not consider SSR 96-9p in making his determination of nondisability. Id. at 368. However, the court held that since the claimant was found capable of occasional stooping, the limitation of SSR 96-9p leading to a usual finding of disabled was not present in this case. Id.

Fourth Circuit

The ALJ erred in determining that the claimant could perform the full range of sedentary work, despite her inability to stoop. Hammond v. Heckler, 765 F.2d 424, 426 (4th Cir. 1985).

Fifth Circuit

The ALJ erred in determining that the claimant could perform the full range of sedentary work, despite his reliance on a treating physician’s report stating that the claimant could not (among other movements) stoop. Davis v. Shalala, 859 F.Supp. 1011, 1016 (N.D. Tex.1994).

A Texasdistrict court rejected the claimant’s contention that, based in light of the claimant’s inability to stoop, a finding of disability was warranted. Bagwell v. Barnhart, 338 F. Supp.2d 723, 735 (S.D. Tex. 2004). The court explained that SSR 96-9p does not compel a finding of disability but, instead, provides that “an ALJ should consult a VE to determine a claimant’s RFC when the claimant is limited by an inability to stoop. Id., citing Lauer v. Apfel, 169 F.3d 489, 492 (7th Cir.1999); Sarabia v. Apfel, 152 F.3d 929, No. 97-56166, 1998 WL 382839, at *1 (9th Cir. May 26, 1998).

Sixth Circuit

A Michigan district court noted that SSR 96-9p provides that a “complete inability to stoop would significantly erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base and a finding that the individual is disabled would usually apply, but restriction to occasional stooping should, by itself, only minimally erode the unskilled occupational base of sedentary work.” Allison v. Commissioner of Social Security, 347 F. Supp.2d 439, 447 (E.D. Mich. 2004) (emphasis in original).While the ALJ gave significant weight to a doctor’s findings, this doctor found that the claimant was not able to stoop and the ALJ failed to address this limitation in his RFC assessment. Accordingly, the court directed that the ALJ address the claimant’s inability to stoop on remand. Id.

Seventh Circuit

In Golembiewski v. Barnhart, 322 F.3d 912, 917 (7th Cir. 2003),the Seventh Circuit held that the ALJ failed to address important evidence supporting the claimant’s claim (such as evidence that the claimant could not stoop).

The Seventh Circuit held in Lauer v. Apfel, 169 F.3d 489, 492-93 (7th Cir. 1999), that the district court erred in determining that SSR 96-9p required a finding of disability where the claimant was completely precluded from stooping and was also limited to sedentary work. The Seventh Circuit noted that SSR 96-9p does not compel a finding of disability, but rather “instructs adjudicators to consult with vocational resources when confronted with a claimant who is ‘limited to less than occasional stooping.’” Id.The court further noted that the district court improperly substituted its opinion for that of the Commissioner as to whether disability was mandated, as opposed to permitted, due to the inability to stoop, and remanded the case, with instructions to the district court to remand the case back to the Commissioner so that the Commissioner could determine the effect of SSR 96-9p. Id. at 493-94.

Although the court acknowledged that the ability to stoop occasionally was required to perform substantially all of the exertional requirements of most sedentary jobs, the court found that the ALJ properly found that the claimant’s testimony concerning his inability to stoop was not credible. Luna v. Shalala, 22 F.3d 687, 690-91 (7th Cir. 1994).

Eighth Circuit

Where the claimant clearly suffered from nonexertional limitations of inability to walk or stand for extended periods in an 8-hour day and inability to stoop, crouch, or kneel, as these characteristics did not closely match those set forth in the guidelines, vocational testimony was required to determine whether there were jobs available that the claimant could perform. Wiley v. Apfel, 171 F.3d 1190, 1191 (8th Cir. 1999). Although a vocational expert did testify, the hypothetical was incomplete as it failed to consider these limitations. Id.

Tenth Circuit

A Colorado district court noted that while the ALJ adopted the opinion of the independent medical examiner regarding the claimant’s residual functional capacity, he failed to include all of the restrictions set forth by this physician, and specifically ignored, without explanation, a crucial restriction from any stooping at all. Tyson v. Apfel, 107 F. Supp.2d 1267, 1269 (D. Colo.2000). The court held that had the ALJ considered all the limitations given by this doctor, including the complete restriction from stooping, he would have been compelled to find the claimant disabled. The significance of the stooping restriction is noted in Social Security Ruling 96-9p, which requires a claimant who retains the RFC for less than a full range of sedentary work to be found disabled if her limitations would significantly erode the occupational base for sedentary work. Id. at 1269.

In Higgins v. Barnhart, 294 F. Supp.2d 1206 (D. Kan. 2003), the court held that the ALJ’s RFC determination was in error, since it did not consider the claimant’s inability to stoop. Id. at 1211.

A Kansasdistrict court remanded a case to the Commissioner holding that there was no substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s finding that the claimant could occasionally stoop. Piatt v. Barnhart, 225 F. Supp.2d 1278, 1289 (D. Kan.2002). The court directed that, on remand, the Commissioner must consider the claimant’s complete inability to stoop upon his consideration of her RFC. Id.

In Tyson v. Apfel, 107 F. Supp.2d 1267 (D. Colo. 2000), the court held that the ALJ erred in adopting the opinion of the independent medical examiner regarding the claimant’s residual functional capacity, but failing to include a limitation of no stooping which would have required a finding of disabled. Id. at 1269-70. Since the substantial evidence of record established that the claimant could not return to her past relevant work, the ALJ should have proceeded to step five, and at that step, the claimant was disabled in accordance with SSR 96-9p. Id. at 1270.

Eleventh Circuit

An Alabama district court noted that “[a]n ability to stoop occasionally . . . is required in most unskilled sedentary occupations.” James v. Barnhart, 261 F. Supp. 2d 1368, 1372 n.3 (S.D. Ala. 2003). In James, the ALJ ignored the opinion of a podiatrist that a claimant can “never” stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, work in high, exposed places or use both feet for repetitive action and consequently also failed properly to refute them. Id. at 1371. The court remanded, in part, with directions to evaluate these opinions, noting that accepting this opinion concerning stooping or pain would preclude exclusive reliance on the Grids. Id. at 1371.

In Crooker v. Apfel, 114 F. Supp. 2d 1251 (S.D. Ala. 2000), the court rejected the claimant’s argument that SSR 96-9p mandated a finding of disability if a claimant is unable to stoop, finding that “[b]y its terms, SSR 96-9p does not mandate a finding of disability in this situation,” but rather provides that ‘[c]onsultation with a vocational resource may be particularly useful for cases where the individual is limited to less than occasional [i.e., no] stooping.’” Id.at 1257, quoting SSR 96-9p.

D.C. Circuit

In Butler v. Barnhart, 353 F.3d 992 (D.C. Cir. 2004), the D.C. Circuit held that in light of SSR 96-9p and SSR 85-15, it was “clear” that to arrive at the claimant’s RFC assessment, the ALJ failed to properly consider the opinion of her treating physician, who repeatedly opined that she could not stoop at all, reach, or lift any weight. Id.at 1001.