Don't waste your Texas disability hearing - be prepared

I applied for SSDI for my Chronic Migraines. My Doctors (family doctor & neurologist) had me take a Functional Capacity Exam. The results state that I can work a sedentary job with light skills if an employer will hire me. I checked the Social Security website and they have a grid for ages and schooling and skills based on your last job.

I checked and it says the judge will find me disabled because I have no skills to get another job. Not sure why the test said nothing about my migraines. Is the above true and does the exam results hurt my chances at the hearing even if I have medical records to prove it?


The medical vocational grid rules are used to guide decisions based on your age, education, rated work skills, and current rated level of functionality (i.e. are you restricted to light work, sedentary, medium, etc).

The grid rules do not address specific medical conditions, in your case migraines. That is not their purpose. Regarding "skills", be careful about trying to interpret the grid rules. Skill levels are assessed by judges and by disability examiners according to an identification of your job in something known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles. They use your description of your job(s) to find the job in the DOT that matches up, and then they use the skill rating assigned to that job listing.

Common questions about filing for disability in Texas
To me, it seems you would benefit from representation at a hearing. The whole purpose of representation at a Texas disability hearing is that you have someone handling your case that actually understands the rules and regulations of the SSD and SSI programs. They can argue that you meet the SSA definition of disability, provide input as to how your work should be classified, and even regarding the relationship between your medical records and your functional limitations (meaning, what type of work are you unable to do as a result of your condition).

If you are not represented, you may find it a good idea to look into this before a hearing takes place. People in Texas wait months after a hearing request to get a hearing. At every single Texas hearing office, in fact, the wait exceeds a full year (How long does it take to get a disability hearing in Texas?). And it all takes place in under a half hour. You really want to maximize your chances in that half hour and you want your case prepared as best as possible before you enter the hearing room.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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