Understanding the GRID Rules

What are the GRID rules and how do they affect whether Social Security will find me disabled.  These are sometimes just called the GRIDs.

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            If your impairment(s) does not meet or equal a listing (see section on listings) the GRID rules come into play when an individual has a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment, is not working at SGA level and the impairment prevents an individual from performing any of their past relevant work.  The GRIDs are set up as a series of charts.  This section can be confusing if you have any questions or want a free consultation with a lawyer e-mail me.  Social Security will make a determination on what level of exertion you can perform at in a work environment. The categories are from least level of exertion to most: sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy.  Individuals who can perform at heavy or very heavy level and don’t have severe non-exertional limitations are generally not found disabled and therefore do not have a chart.  So the GRIDs consist of a chart for sedentary, light and medium exertional levels.  After Social Security makes a finding on your exertional level they will then look at the corresponding chart and match your age education and past work will will direct a finding of disabled or not disabled.  If you have exertional (strength) and non-exertional limitations the Social Security Administration will first determine if you can be found disabled based on the exertional limitations by themselves.  If the GRIDs direct a finding of not disabled Social Security will then consider any non-exertional limitationsand how much those additional limitations would erode your ability to perform any jobs at that exertionnal level. 

The importance of age, education and past work in your disability claim.  Your disability and how it limits you is not the only factor that decides whether you will be approved for ssd or ssi benefits.  In general the older you are the better chance you have of getting disability.  The theory SSA goes by is that the older you are the harder it is to adjust to new work.  If you are 18-49 years old you are considered to be a younger individual.  However ss looks at age 45-49 years as a less advantageous factor for making an adjustment to other work than if you are 18-44.  If you are 50-54 years old you are considered closely approaching advanced age.  If you are 55 or older you are considered by Social Security to be in advanced age.  What age category you fall into is very important especially if you have purely exertional limitations from you disability.  Exertional limitations basically mean physical limitations such as in you ability to lift, stand, walk etc..  an example of a non-exertional limitation would be difficulty with memory, concentration etc. from a condition like depression.  I will explain how this all comes together later.  What is important to remember for now is that the older you are the easier it is to get ssd benefits for people with physical conditions.

            Education is also an important factor when Social Security decides if you are disabled.  Social Security's theory is that the higher your education the easier it is to find other work.  Social Security has several categories of education.  From least educated to most they are: marginal to none, limited, high school graduate or more (does not provide for direct entry into skilled work), and high school graduate or more (provides for direct entry into skilled work).

            So how do you read the chart?  Let’s say you are 50 years old, you have 12 years of education (high school graduate) and your past relevant work (work performed in past 15 years at SGA level) was as an unskilled heavy laborer.  SS finds that you are limited to sedentary work.  Looking at the chart below called "GRIDs for Sedentary Work".  First look under the column of age.  At 50 years old you are considered closely approaching advanced age.  Now look at the column for education you are a high school graduate or more (that does not provide for direct entry into skilled work).  Now we look at the column for previous work experience.  Your past relevant work was as unskilled heavy laborer therefore your past work is considered unskilled.  Now with these columns lined up you look at the decision column and it directs a finding of disabled.

            This should explain how the basic system of the GRID rules work.  What is important to know for your SSDI or SSI case is that it is extremely important that your treating doctors give an opinion on your residual function capacity.  The doctor who is treating you for your physical problems such as your orthopedist or primary should give this opinion.  In other word how much you can lift, how long you can stand, etc..  Also if you suffer from non-exertional limitations (non-strength limitations) such as memory difficulties, difficulty concentrating, etc. it is important that your doctor note these as well because it can further limit the jobs Social Security will be able to find that you can do.  If you suffer from a psychiatric condition such as depression you should have your treating psychiatrist opinion of any limitations from your condition.  I recommend using Residual Capacity Forms (RFC) or ability to do work related activity forms.  You can get these from your local Social Security office, from your attorney, or you can e-mail me or call me and I will send you them for free.  I can’t stress this enough you need to have these forms filled out by your doctors don’t rely on the Social Security Administration to do this.  If you don’t have them then your decision will be based on what their doctors say about your limitations.

 

GRIDs for Sedentary Work

 

Rule

Age

Education

Previous Work Experience

Decision

201.01

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Unskilled or none

Disabled

201.02

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Disabled

201.03

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

201.04

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Unskilled or none

Disabled

201.05

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

201.06

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Disabled

201.07

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

201.08

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

201.09

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Unskilled or none

Disabled

201.10

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Disabled

201.11

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

201.12

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Unskilled or none

Disabled

201.13

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

201.14

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Disabled

201.15

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

201.16

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

201.17

Younger individual age 45-49

Illiterate or unable to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Disabled

201.18

Younger individual age 45-49

Limited or less-at least literate and able to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

201.19

Younger individual age 45-49

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

201.20

Younger individual age 45-49

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

201.21

Younger individual age 45-49

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

201.22

Younger individual age 45-49

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

201.23

Younger individual age 18-44

Illiterate or unable to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

201.24

Younger individual age 18-44

Limited or less-at least literate and able to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

201.25

Younger individual age 18-44

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

201.26

Younger individual age 18-44

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

201.27

Younger individual age 18-44

High school graduate or more

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

201.28

Younger individual age 18-44

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

201.29

Younger individual age 18-44

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

 

GRIDs for Light Work

 

Rule

Age

Education

Previous Work Experience

Decision

202.01

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Unskilled or none

Disabled

202.02

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Disabled

202.03

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

202.04

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Unskilled or none

Disabled

202.05

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

202.06

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Disabled

202.07

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

202.08

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

202.09

Closely approaching advanced age

Illiterate or unable to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Disabled

202.10

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less-at least literate and able to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

202.11

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

202.12

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

202.13

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

202.14

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

202.15

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

202.16

Younger individual

Illiterate or unable to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

202.17

Younger individual

Limited or less-at least literate and able to communicate in English

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

202.18

Younger individual

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

202.19

Younger individual

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

202.20

Younger individual

High school graduate or more

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

202.21

Younger individual

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

202.22

Younger individual

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

 
GRIDs for Medium Work
 

Rule

Age

Education

Previous Work Experience

Decision

203.01

Closely approaching retirement age

Marginal or none

Unskilled or none

Disabled

203.02

Closely approaching retirement age

Limited or less

None

Disabled

203.03

Closely approaching retirement age

Limited

Unskilled

Not disabled

203.04

Closely approaching retirement age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.05

Closely approaching retirement age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.06

Closely approaching retirement age

High school graduate or more

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

203.07

Closely approaching retirement age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.08

Closely approaching retirement age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.09

Closely approaching retirement age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.10

Advanced Age

Limited or less

None

Disabled

203.11

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Unskilled

Not disabled

203.12

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.13

Advanced Age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.14

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

203.15

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.16

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.17

Advanced Age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.18

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

203.19

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.20

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.21

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

203.22

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.23

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.24

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.25

Younger individual

Limited or less

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

203.26

Younger individual

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.27

Younger individual

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.28

Younger individual

High school graduate or more

Unskilled or none

Not disabled

203.29

Younger individual

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

203.30

Younger individual

High school graduate or more-does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

203.31

Younger individual

High school graduate or more-provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled-skills not transferable

Not disabled

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