N.J. Court Revives Injured Man's Social Security Disability Claim on Cognitive Ability Evidence - Kuczewski v. Commissioner of Social Security
The central question in a Social Security Disability case is whether the person seeking benefits can still work. As a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Kuczewski v. Commissioner shows, this can often be a complicated inquiry. It requires considering a person's educational background, job history and physical and cognitive abilities, among other factors.
Anthony Kuczewski suffered permanent back and leg injuries as a result of a 1977 car accident when he was 15 years old. He filed a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in February 2009, asserting that he became disabled and unable to work due to the limitations imposed by his injuries. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denied the claims initially and on reconsideration.
Following two hearings before an SSA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the judge determined that Kuczewski was disabled under the applicable standards at the time he filed his claim, but that he was not entitled to SSDI benefits because he was not disabled on the date he was last insured, Dec. 31, 2007. In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, an applicant must have worked for five of the ten years preceding the date of claim. For Kuczewski, the last time he met this requirement was Dec. 31, 2007. The ALJ concluded that Kuczewski was not disabled at that time because there were other jobs available in significant numbers in the national economy that he could have performed up until February 2009.