Summary: 64 year old male with chronic anxiety and physical capacity for light work found disabled based on Grid Rule 202.02.
Client profile: 64 year old male
Education: high school graduate + vocational school
Past work: machinist for aircraft manufacturer; 30 years for same employer
Claim background: my client filed for disability in December, 2011, alleging an onset date in April, 2011. A hearing was held in Atlanta in October, 2013.
Factors in our favor:
- my client was 60+ years old as of his alleged onset
- in addition to his physical limitations he also has severe anxiety and likely OCD
- my client had a long and consistent work history
- the consultative physical evaluation limited my client to light work
Factors not in our favor:
- my client’s mental health problems have been treated by his internist with medications and the medical records suggest that his mental issues are “mild”
- my client looks healthy
My strategy: I felt that if the judge found my client limited to light work, with no transferrable skills, we would win based on Grid Rule 202.02. Otherwise, we would have to argue that his anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies would so interfere with his functional capacity for work that he would not be able to function in a work setting.
Hearing report: my client and I entered the hearing room and were greeted by the judge. As we came in she said to my client this would be a brief hearing, which meant to me that the judge had reviewed the case and had pretty much concluded that the grid rules would apply.
Prior to swearing in the vocational witness the judge conducted an informal “pre-hearing” conference by asking the vocational witness to classify the claimant’s past work. The VE replied that my client’s past work was as a machine operator classified as medium and skilled, but with no transferrable skills.
The judge then turned to me and stated that she felt that the physical CE limited the claimant to light work and with no transferrable skills, he would meet the grids at 202.02.
We then went on the record and the judge swore in the witnesses. She asked me if I had an opening statement and I replied that given the discussions prior to the hearing I would waive any opening statement. The judge then asked a few background questions to the claimant then asked the vocational witness to repeat his testimony about the exertional and skill level of the claimant’s past work.
The judge then announced that based on the medical record and vocational testimony she was going to find my client disabled based on the medical vocational guidelines (the grid rules). She closed the hearing and wised the claimant good luck.
Conclusions: the judge in our case immediately saw that this was a grid rule case and she did not waste anyone’s time in incorporating her conclusions into a bench decision.