GRID Rules

What does GRID Rules mean?

Social Security Disability applicants are only considered disabled if they meet very specific requirements for disability. For example, they must meet certain age requirements, not be able to work for at least 12 continuous months, and have a severe mental or physical impairment.

To make this disability determination the Social Security Administration (SSA) will first review the claimant’s nonmedical health factors. Assuming they meet these requirements, the SSA will continue with their evaluation by using what they call the “Five Step Sequential Evaluation”. The basis of this review is to determine whether or not the claimant can work. If the claimant is working or has the ability to work, they will be considered not disabled by the SSA.

Assuming they are not working, the SSA will first determine whether the claimant’s condition meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments. This listing contains the most common conditions and symptoms the SSA presumes are disabling.

If a claimant’s condition is not on the listing, the next step is to determine whether they have the mental or physical residual capacity to work and whether they can make an adjustment to other work. This review is done through what is termed a medical vocational allowance, which utilizes five different “GRIDs” which outline the work capacity for claimants who can do very heavy, heavy, medium, light, or sedentary work.

How are the GRID Rules applied?

After the SSA has determined a claimant’s residual work capacity, which is determined by reviewing their educational background, their age, their past work history, and transferrable work skills, they will determine the claimant’s physical exertional capability or level for work.

For example, let’s say you are a 50 year old man, with a high school degree, you have performed very heavy work for the past 20 years as an unskilled laborer, and the SSA decides you only have the capability to perform sedentary work. To find out if you are disabled according to the GRID rules we would review the "GRIDs for Sedentary Work". 

Am I disabled according to the GRID Rules?

According to the GRID, due to your past unskilled work, your limited educational background, and the fact you are approaching an advanced age, the SSA will allow that your work opportunities to find employment in the skilled labor force given your current physical capacity to work are very limited. They will find you automatically disabled.

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