Age, Education, Work Experience & RFC
After your impairments have been substantiated, age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity (”RFC”) are the final elements considered by the SSA Administrative Law Judge in determining your eligibility for Social Security Disability Income benefits. You are at this point because you failed to “GRID out” in an earlier assessment as to whether you met the so-called “listings.” Although the process is one of steps, it is important that your disability lawyer understand how these concepts are interrelated to win your case. In general terms, the older you are, lower your educational level, and less skilled your prior work experience, the higher the maximum RFC (that you are still capable of doing despite your restrictions and limitations) that can be permitted for a disability finding. Sound complicated? It’s actually quite simple to the experienced disability advocate. But that is why it is essential, in the earlier steps, that your restrictions and limitations are established, not only as far as how much you are able to lift, range of motion, etc., but medication side-effects, good and bad days, and the like. Remember, although the disability hearing is supposed to be non-adversarial and the ALJ presiding over it a simple finder of fact, most take on a de facto prosecutorial role, are often pre-disposed to denials, and will question you in such a way as to try and contradict your restrictions and limitations with your activities of daily living, concluding, after it’s all said and done, that gainful employment exists for you in the national economy.