Regulations with Relevance to Your Claim for Social Security Disability Benefits

If you’ve filed a claim for Social Security disability benefits, you should understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review your file and decide whether you qualify as “disabled” to receive a favorable decision. Several U.S. regulations provide varying definitions for what it means to be disabled.

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does define “disability” for administrative law purposes, the ADA has limited relevance to a claim for Social Security disability benefits. The ADA assesses whether an individual has a disability by considering the individual’s ability to participate in “major life activities.” The ADA definition differs from the definition provided by the Social Security Act. If you have any questions about the ADA and available benefits, Savannah, Georgia disability lawyers Durden, Rice & Barfield, P.C., may be able to help.

Rather than look to the ADA for guidance regarding the types of disabilities that qualify claimants for benefits, you should understand the significance of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and its importance to Social Security regulations. The DOT includes short descriptions for 12,741 occupations. For each occupation, the DOT gives the definitions for the necessary skill level and exertional level. The DOT also includes charts displaying the exertional levels set by the Medical-Vocational Guidelines; these grids consider how many unskilled DOT occupational titles apply to each exertional level.

Vocational experts for Social Security disability claims need to understand the DOT. Although the last revision of the DOT came out in 1991 and the U.S. Department of Labor no longer revises the DOT, the Social Security Administration (SSA) still relies on the publication. The Department of Labor now uses O*Net, which does not provide helpful guidance for disability determinations. The SSA has instructed adjudicators and administrative law judges to ignore O*Net when reviewing claims for disability benefits.

You may need a Savannah, Georgia disability lawyer’s guidance to understand the significance of the ADA, DOT, and other regulations — consider contacting us today if you have any questions.