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Copyright 1983 New York University Law Review.

New York University Law Review

NOTE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY DETERMINATIONS: THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE GRID SYSTEM.

JUNE, 1983

58 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 575

Author

Kathleen Pickering

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Since 1979 the Social Security administration (SSA) has used the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 1 or "grid," 2 to make disability determinations under the Social Security Act. 3 This system employs a fivequestion sequential analysis 4 to establish a claimant's medical and vocational ability to perform "substantial gainful activity." 5 The first four questions assess the claimant's ability to perform work done previously. 6 If the claimant cannot perform such work, a fifth question assesses the claimant's ability to perform alternate work. 7 Under certain circumstances, the claimant's ability to perform alternate work may be determined by reference to a table or grid 8 consisting of one medical factor -- residual functional capacity (RFC) 9 -- and three vocational factors -- age, 10 education, 11 and previous work experience. 12 The grid can be properly applied only when a claimant's medical and vocational factors coincide exactly with a grid rule. When the claimant's characteristics match precisely with a grid rule, the grid directs a decision of disabled or not disabled. 13 In all other cases, the determination in question five is based on the claimant's record as a whole, with the grid serving only as a guide.

The Secretary 14 promulgated the sequential analysis or grid system for several reasons. First, the grid system consolidates longstanding policies into one body of regulations for use at all levels of application and appeal. 15 Disability determinations are thereby made more uniform and fair since use of the grid ...
 
 
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