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What is a medical vocational allowance?

Many persons in Michigan who apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits learn that their medical condition does not satisfy the definition of any disabling condition that is set out in the SSA manual, commonly called the Blue Book, and their claim has been denied. One obvious solution is to appeal the denial. Appeals can, however, take time, and the outcome is not always predictable. Another option is to seek a medical vocational allowance at the same time that the application for Social Security Disability benefits is filed. In this post, we will outline the basics of this path to obtaining disability benefits.

A person is eligible for SSD benefits if he or she is, by reason of a physical or mental injury or condition, totally unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. The SSA maintains a comprehensive list of medical conditions that allow a person to qualify for benefits, but occasionally, a person who is totally disabled suffers from a medical condition that is not listed as a qualifying disability in the Blue Book. In such cases, the person may qualify for a medical vocational allowance.

The applicant must complete an application for this type of benefit and submit relevant medical and employment records with the application. The SSA will review these records to determine the person's "residual functional capacity." If a person's RFA is low enough, the SSA will approve disability benefits even though the applicant's medical condition is not listed in the Blue Book.

Anyone contemplating filing an application for disability benefits may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in handling such claims. A knowledgeable lawyer can assess the applicant's work history and medical status, provide an estimate of the chances of obtaining a medical vocational allowance and assist in assembling the necessary employment and medical records to support the application.

Source: Social Security Disability Help, "Medical Vocational Allowance," accessed on April 17, 2016

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