Grid Rule Strategy

What Are The Social Security Grid Rules and How Do They Work

Several years ago, the Social Security Administration developed a set of “medical-vocational guidelines” whereby a claimant over the age of 50 could be found disabled quickly if he or she fell into certain categories relating to education and past work. Because the requirements of these guidelines fit into a table or grid format, they are known as the “grid” rules.

The grid rules only apply if your disability claim is based on a physical type of injury. The grids do not apply in mental health cases. The grids are based on the idea that a worker age 50 and over with a limited education and limited skills would find it very difficult to obtain an entry level unskilled job.

You can view the Medical Vocational Guidelines at the official Social Security web site or at an easy to follow web site called GridRules.net that I have created. Here are some common examples:

Grid 201.14 – Claimant limited to sedentary work, age 50-54, high school graduate, no transferrable skills from previous work – DISABLED

Grid 201.15 – Claimant limited to sedentary work, age 50-54, high school graduate, transferrable skills from previous work – NOT DISABLED

Grid 202.13 – Claimant limited to light work, age 50-54, high school graduate, unskilled work background – NOT DISABLED

Grid 202.04 – Claimant limited to light work, age 55-59, high school graduate, unskilled work background – DISABLED

The grids can be confusing, so don’t be upset if you don’t fully understand how they work. If you are age 50 or older and your disability is based on physical problems, you should be aware that the grids exist and you should inquire whether they apply to you.

Sometimes the grid rules will apply in a case, and will be used by a judge to render a partially favorable decision. For example if you are age 49 years and 7 months as of your onset date, the judge may find you disabled as of your 50th birthday.

When you review the grids you will note that they favor individuals with a high school or less education and past work that consists of labor type of work. However, as claimants get older, the likelihood increases that a grid rule will apply. For example an individual who is age 60 or older may be found disabled per the grids if that person has a skilled background but would have even a minimal level of difficulty adjusting to an easier job. The bottom line: I review the Medical-Vocational guidelines in every case that involves a claimant over 50 with a physical component to his or her claim.

Click on the links below to reach several case studies describing cases where the grid rules applied:

Grid Rule Case Study #1 – the grid rules applied and our successful hearing took less than 45 seconds!

Grid Rule Case Study #2 – 58 year old client with high school education, no transferrable skills who was limited to sedentary work awarded benefits per grid rule 201.06.

Grid Rule Case Study #3 – 58 year old female with high school education and past work at medium exertional level but no transferable skills

Grid Rule Case Study #4 – 51 year old male, high school education with past work at heavy, semi-skilled exertional level and no transferable skills

Grid Rule Case Study #5 – 58 year old male, 9th grade education with a GED, and past work in heavy to very heavy unskilled occupations

Grid Rules Case Study #6 – 53 year old female, 12 grade education, semi-skilled and skilled past work limited to sedentary work but with no skills transferable to sedentary

Grid Rules Case Study #7 – 50 year old male, 9th grade education, unskilled work background who is limited to sedentary work due to multiple heart attacks and a large abdominal hernia

Grid Rules Case Study #8 – 62 year old female, 8th grade education, semi-skilled work background who is limited to sedentary work due to chronic low back problems.  She also suffers from migraine headaches.

Grid Rules Case Study #9 – 63 year old male, 11th grade education, and no work background who was limited to medium work due to a past history of tuberculosis, HIV infection and arthritis.