February 22, 2020

Using the Grid Rules to Win Your TBI Claim

When you apply for disability, you have the obligation of proving to Social Security that you meet SSA’s definition of disability. SSA defines disability in terms of your capacity to work – if your medical condition leaves you unable to reliably work a simple, entry-level job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and your condition has lasted or is expected to last 12 consecutive months, you meet the requirements and will be found disabled.

Because Social Security defines disability in terms of your capacity for work, lawyers representing claimants began arguing to judges that non-medical factors such as age, education and work skills should also be relevant factors. Older, less educated claimants with medical issues would clearly have more difficulty finding jobs than younger, less educated claimants.

As a result of these arguments, Social Security came up with something called the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. These guidelines are also called the “grid rules,” because the SSA rules look like a grid. You can look at the grid rules at the GridRules.net site.

Basically the grid rules provide that even if you have some capacity to work, you can still be found disabled if you have a physical injury, are over the age of 50 with a limited education and limited work skills.

Using the Grid Rules in a Closed Head Injury Case

Because the grid rules require a physical limitation, it would seem that the grid rules would not apply to a closed head injury claim. In fact, most TBI cases are decided under a Listing argument or under a functional capacity argument.

However, the grid rules can apply if your brain injury results in physical limitations and limits your capacity to transfer into more than unskilled work. Further, if you have other, primarily physical limitations applicable in your case, the grid rules may directly apply.

Experienced and creative lawyers know that there is no reason not to use all possible arguments when presenting a disability claim to a judge. You want to give the judge as many options as possible to approve your case. So, while the grid rules would not be applicable in every closed head injury case, you should always consider this argument when preparing your case.