Social Security Disability SSI Application and Hearing Tips: Describing your work

If you ask a social security claims rep (claims reps are the individuals who take your application for either Social Security Disability or SSI) which part of the application interview takes the longest amount of time to complete, they'll likely tell you it has to do with getting a breakdown of the physical activities attached to a past job. In other words, how much time was spent sitting, standing, etc.

This part of the interview may be akin to pulling teeth simply because most claimants have never taken the time to think about the time-portions of their work day that were consumed by certain physical activities. Frankly, other than for the purposes of completing a disability application or answering questions at a hearing, why would anyone think about this?

But this type of information is relevant to a disability claim and important. Why? Because whether or not you are approved for disability benefits will likely depend not only on your physical and mental limitations, but also on the requirements of your previous jobs.

Remember: Eligibility for Social Security Disability or SSI disability has very little to do with the names of your conditions, but, rather with---

1. What you are still capable of doing even with your condition (your residual functional capacity).

2. Whether or not your limitations will allow you to return to your past work (this is why it's important to know what you actually did on your past jobs).

3. Whether or not your limitations will allow you to perform a suitable type of other work.

According to one claims rep I know, disability claimants tend to minimize the demands of their previous jobs. But you should never do this, not when you file for disability benefits and certainly not when you appear at a disability hearing.

When it comes to describing your pain, symptoms, physical limitations, and mental limitations, NEITHER MINIMIZE NOR EXAGGERATE, but, rather, give honest and well-considered answers.

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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