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Does a “stable” medical condition equal the ability to work?

Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) often like to characterize medical records as a whole rather than looking at each individual person’s disabilities.  One way they pigeon hole claimants is by referring to their conditions as stable.   Quite often medical records use the word stable to describe a medical condition. However, being stable is not the same thing as being well. A good way to think about it is like this:An ice cube in the refrigerator is “stable.” However, once you take it out of the refrigerator and put it in a drink, it begins to melt. So in protective conditions it is “stable.’ Outside those special conditions, which do not exist in outside world, it is not “stable” at all. The law in different Federal District Court Circuits recognizes the principle of a stable condition verses the actual condition itself. A “stable” medical condition has to be understood as to how it relates to an individual condition and circumstances. Fleshman v. Sullivan, 933 F.2d 674, 676 (8th Cir. 1991); Lechner v. Barnhart, 321 F. Supp. 2d 1015, 1030 (E. D. Wis. 2004). It is very helpful if the doctor defines what they means by stable in the records but often times they do not. This is where witnesses can help filling the blanks of what stable really means in a claimant’s life. (See Blog on what makes a goof witness.) It is also helpful if the patent is tells the doctor what is going on with their condition in a clear way so that description can make it into the records. (See Blog on doctor’s visits.) If you have any questions about Social Security, please do not hesitate to contact Susan O’Malley in our office.


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