April 26, 2019

The Grid Strategy

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, there are different arguments you can present to support your claim for disability.   In cases involving inflammatory bowel disease, disability attorneys usually analyze claims as follows:

  1. does my client’s claim meet any of the 5.0 Listings?
  2. if the claim does not meet a listing, can I prove that my client’s capacity to perform a simple job has been so reduced by the symptoms and/or treatment of his/her bowel disease that he/she would not be a reliable worker?
  3. if my client is over age 50, can I argue that he/she should be awarded disability under the “grid rules?”

The grid rules are an interesting part of the Social Security law.  Also known as the “medical vocational guidelines,” the grid rules reflect Social Security’s understanding that workers over the age of 50, with limited work skills and physical impairments will have a very difficult time finding work either locally or anywhere in the country.

Generally the grid rules will result in a finding of disability for individuals over 50 years of age, with a high school or less education and an unskilled work background.

The name “grid rules” comes from the appearance of the printed table that SSA employees use to find out where you fit on the tables.  The  printout, with its vertical and horizontal lines, appears in the form of a grid.   A sample grid table is reproduced below.

Grid Rule



Work Experience

201.01 (Sedentary) 55+ Limited/less Unskilled/none
201.02 (Sedentary) 55+ Limited/less Skilled/semi-skilled (non-transferrable skills)
201.04 (Sedentary) 55+ High School graduate or more Unskilled/none
201.06 (Sedentary) 55+ High School Graduate or more Skilled/semi-skilled (non-transferrable skill)
201.09 (Sedentary) 50-54 Limited/less Unskilled/none
201.10 (Sedentary) 50-54 Limited/Less Skilled/semi-skilled (non-transferrable skill)
201.12 (Sedentary) 50-54 High School graduate or more Unskilled/none
201.14 (Sedentary) 50-54 High School Graduate or more Skilled/semi-skilled (non-transferrable skill)
201.17 (Sedentary) 45-49 Illiterate/unable to communicate in English Unskilled/non
202.01 (Light) 55+ Limited/less Unskilled/none
202.02 (Light) 55+ Limited/less Skilled/semi-skilled (non-transferrable skill)
202.04 (Light) 55+ High School Graduate or more Unskilled/none
202.06 (Light) 55+ High School Graduate or more Skilled/semi-skilled (non-transferrable skill)
202.09 (Light) 50-54 Illiterate/unable to communicate in English Unskilled/none
203.01 (Medium) 60-64 Marginal/none Unskilled/none
203.02 (Medium) 60-64 Limited/less None

Visit the web site GridRules.net to learn more about the grid rules and to see where you fit on these tables.

Do the Grid Rules Apply in Crohn’s/Colitis/IBD Cases?

Generally the grid rules apply in cases where a claimant has a physical impairment such as severe damage to the spine, or damage to the heart.   These types of problems are called “exertional impairments” because they impact one’s physical capacity.

Pain alone is not considered an exertional impairment because pain is a symptom of the underlying problem that causes problems with sitting, standing, walking, lifting, pushing, pulling, etc.

Some Social Security judges do not use a “grid rules analysis” when considering an irritable bowel case.   However, if your doctor will put on record that your symptoms directly reduce your capacity to lift, carry, sit, stand and walk, you can make the argument that the grid rules do apply.  Experienced disability attorneys will give judges as many reasons as they can to recognize their client’s job activity limitations and a reduced physical capacity following surgery or as a result of symptoms is certainly relevant.

If you would like a no obligation case review, please visit the case evaluation section of this web site.