The "Grid Rules": SSA's Medical-Vocational Guidelines

If you are aged 50 or older, then you may have an easier time winning your disability case than younger applicants. This is due to SSA's Medical-Vocational Guidelines, or "grid rules", a collection of charts contained in Appendix 2 to Subpart P of Part 404 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. The grid rules are implicated at step 5 of the sequential functional evaluation process. Therefore, SSA must have first found that (1) you are not engaged in substantial gainful activity, (2) you have at least one severe impairment, (3) you do not meet or equal a listed impairment, and (4) you are unable to perform your past relevant work. At step 5, the burden of proof shifts to SSA to show that there is a substantial number of occupations available for you to perform. To make this showing, SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC), or your ability to work after taking into account the limitations posed by your severe impairment(s). Your RFC is partly made up of an exertion level - sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy - defined primarily by the amount of standing, walking, sitting, and lifting done. Generally, to prove disability at step 5, an applicant must convince SSA that he or she is unable to perform even sedentary (sit-down) work.


However, the grid rules relax this requirement. Individuals aged 50-54 need only be found capable of sedentary work in order to be found disabled in many cases. For those aged 55-59, the hurdle is even lower - a light RFC provides for disability in many cases. SSA implemented the grid rules because it acknowledged that, as we get older, it becomes more difficult to adjust to other occupations.


If you are unable to work, consult with an experienced Kentucky disability attorney on your case. I have handled literally hundreds of cases where the grid rules have come into play. Contact me today for a free case evaluation.


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