Slepian Smith, PLLC

Challenges to expect when the SSA evaluates your ability to work

One of the most difficult elements of applying for Social Security disability benefits is being able to prove not just that you cannot perform your job, but that you cannot perform any type of job on a full time basis. 

This can be very frustrating because the decision on whether you have the ability to work is left in the hands of a complete stranger who sees countless applications that may look very similar to yours. This is just one of the challenges you should expect if you are filing a claim for disability benefits. Below are some others. 

  1. The Social Security Administration does not consider whether a job you could perform is available in your local area, only that you can perform the essential functions of jobs that exist in the national economy. In other words, if you can perform a full-time job, the SSA may find you not disabled, even if there are no job openings or if you would have to move to secure the job. 
  2. At the initial levels Social Security agents rely on an outdated occupational list created in 1991. This list includes jobs like telegram messengers, which are no longer relevant. A new list is not expected until at least 2019, so until then, SSA will continue to refer to outdated, inaccurate and obsolete job descriptions to decide whether there are jobs that you could perform. 
  3. The SSA does not think about what you want to do; it examines only what you are able to do. 
  4. Age, education and previous work experience will be important factors in assessing your ability to adjust to new work. Generally speaking, if you are under 50 with a high school education and varied work history, the SSA is more likely to find you capable of adjusting to new work and, therefore, ineligible for benefits. 

Rather than get overwhelmed or lose hope in light of these challenges, you can use this information to prepare for the application and appeals processes. Together with your attorney, you can collect the necessary evidence to prove your disability and craft your arguments in a manner that puts you in a position to secure a favorable outcome. 

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