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SSA Disability- Will it help my case if I cannot get a CDL license?

We recently had a question our forum about whether not it helps a claimant’s case if they are not able to get their commercial driver’s license (CDL license). This blog will address when this issue would most likely come up in the disability determination process and whether or not this will help a claimant’s disability case.
How does the SSA find me disabled?

The first issue to address before answering this question is how the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes their disability determination. The process can be fairly complicated, but the SSA has simplified it by using what they call the Sequential Evaluation Process. This is basically a series of five simple questions they use in the disability determination process in hopes of standardizing this process for all disability examiners.

The steps for the process are listed below.

  1. Is the claimant working and performing substantial gainful activity?

  2. Is the claimant’s disability or condition "severe"?

  3. Is the claimant’s mental or physical health condition listed on the Social Security Administration Listing of Impairments or Blue Book?

  4. Can the claimant perform their current job or any prior relevant work?

  5. Can the claimant retrain for new employment? Claimants who cannot be retrained for new employment because they lack the capacity to work will be awarded SSDI or SSI benefits.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments

The Social Security Administration will evaluate whether a claimant’s condition is on the listing of impairments at step 3 of the sequential evaluation process. If your condition is in the SSA Blue Book and you have evidence that your condition meets or exceeds the listing (although you might have information about your inability to operate a commercial vehicle in your medical records) this will not really factor into the SSA decision making. Assuming your condition meets a listing you will be approved.

Proving you cannot work through a Medical Vocational Allowance

Now, if your condition does not meet a listing and you must prove you cannot work through a medical vocational allowance the SSA will begin to analyze your previous work and your ability to retrain for new work.

It is at this stage in the evaluation process that your inability to operate a commercial vehicle becomes relevant to the Social Security Administration. For instance, if you are a 60 year old man who has a severe diabetes which has affected your vision and you are not able to pass a CDL exam and you have been working as a commercial driver for 30 years, your inability to continue to work your past and current job is very relevant to the decision making process.

Given that you cannot continue to drive, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will have to decide if you can retrain for new work and given your age, your education, and residual capacity to work they will generally approve your case.

Another consideration is that another Governmental agency has provided concrete evidence that you are not able to work your past job. Driving tests are standardized and given that the Department of Public Safety has said you cannot perform your current job your disability lawyer now has clear and convincing evidence that they can share with the court about your limitations to perform your current job.
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