January 25, 2020

The Grid Strategy

As you know, Social Security disability requires you – the claimant – to prove to a Social Security Administration decision maker that you are unable to work.   Social Security defines “disability” as the inability to perform “substantial gainful activity” because of a medically determinable condition or conditions that has lasted or is expected to last 12 consecutive months or result in death.

In multiple sclerosis cases there is usually little argument that MS is a “medically determinable” condition or that it is a disease that has lasted or is expected to last 12 consecutive months. These things are obvious.

The issue in most MS cases, therefore, has to do with whether your condition prevents you from performing “substantial” work.  Another way to look at this: could you perform a simple, one or two step, entry level job.  Examples of very easy sit-down types of jobs include:

  • ticket taker at a movie theater
  • textile inspector
  • foil wrapper
  • surveillance system monitor

If you can prove that the fatigue, pain, concentration issues and reliability problems associated with your MS would prevent you from performing one of these “easy” jobs, you stand a good chance of winning.

How Do You Prove that You Cannot Perform Even a Simple, Unskilled Job

Attorneys who represent disability claimants use a variety of arguments to win disability cases.  Elsewhere on this site you can read about the “listing” argument for MS and about the “functional capacity” argument for MS.  This page is about the “grid rules” argument for winning a disability case based on MS.

The grid rules reflect Congress’ recognition that claimants over the age of 50 who have a limited education and minimal work skills will have a very difficult time finding work if they have a medical problem that limits their capacity to perform physical work.

The grid rules are published in a government publication called the Code of Federal Regulations – but to make it easier, we have republished the grid rules in an easy to use web site called GridRules.net.

Applying the Grid Rules

Under the grid rules, a claimant can be found “disabled” even if he/she can perform some simple work, because in reality, that claimant would have a very hard time finding a job based on his/her age.

The easiest way to understand the grid rules is to consider an example:

First, take a look at grid rule 201.12.  An MS claimant meets this grid rule if:

  • he is limited to “sedentary” work (sedentary work means that he could only perform a job that permits sitting for 6 out of 8 hours per day and lifting 10 lbs. only occasionally  during the day).
  • he is between age 50 and 54 years of age
  • he is a high school graduate but has no other significant education
  • his past work is unskilled (based on a job evaluation by a vocational expert witness)

Once you reach 55, the grid rules recognize that your job prospects become worse, so it is easier to win, and still easier as you approach 60.

MS claimants over the age of 50 often win based on the grid rules because their capacity to perform physical work often disappears and their ability to adjust to other types of work does not exist.

Every claimant close to or over the age of 50 should consider whether the grid rules apply.  If you would like a complimentary case evaluation by a disability lawyer who understands the grid rules as well as other theories to win MS cases, please use the contact form on the right side of this page.