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Making the ADA Work for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries

Life After Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems

By Alan M. Goldstein & Barbara Siegel

In 1999 in Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corporation the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously and (seemingly) clearly held that for plaintiffs to claim that they were disabled from working under the Social Security Act but able to work under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not inherently inconsistent. However, eight years after Cleveland, ADA plaintiffs who are social security beneficiaries usually lose in federal court on the basis of their having applied for and received social security benefits. Cleveland and lower court rulings do provide some guidance in suggesting strategies to pursue when representing individuals in social security or ADA claims.

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