Can you Get Disability if you can do Some Normal Daily Activities?

There are many people who perform some level of volunteer work, yet receive disability benefits. That's because occasional volunteer work and occasional exercise does not correspond to the demands of having to show up at a job each and every day and perform prescribed work duties for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, week-in, week-out, over the course of years.

The question, for federal disability benefits, is not whether someone is a complete invalid or lacks the ability to comprehend. I say that because, believe it or not, there are thousands of "rational" individuals out there who hold the notion that a person with a disabling condition should be this bad off, or worse, before filing for benefits (I'm sure that opinion changes when and if they themselves develop a disability that prevents them from working and earning a substantial, gainful income).

The question, for federal disability benefits, is whether or not a person is capable of sustaining paid competitive employment. It's for this reason that the social security administration actually attempts to quantify the process in certain ways.

Yes, the Social security administration does look at the claimant's medical records to determine:

A) what their condition is,

B) how severe it is,

C) what the outlook is,

---However, since the decision process is medical and vocational in nature, it also looks at the claimant's past work history, age, education, and skills to determine:

1. Can the claimant return to one of the jobs contained within their past relevant work history?
2. Can the claimant transition to some form of other work?

Included in the process of determining this question (is the person capable of sustaining paid competitive employment?) are concepts such as unsuccessful work attempts, trial work months, expedited reinstatements, and extended periods of eligibility. All in all, the process is far more complicated and layered than most applicants for disability benefits could possibly imagine.

However, it all boils down this: becoming eligible for disability benefits (for those who are applying and for those who are currently receiving) has a lot do with measuring current work activity, past work activity, and the possibility of transitioning to other types of work.

Basically, the disability claim decision process means not just reading a claimant's medical record documentation, but attempting to measure their ability to engage in work activity, at a substantial and gainful level, either of the kind they've done before...or in types of work for which their vocational profile might suit them.

For this reason, as I've stated before, it's fairly important for a claimant to supply a detailed work history, complete with dates, job titles, and descriptions of work activities, along with a detailed history of medical treatment.

It may also benefit someone whose case will be appealed to review the prior decision that was made to determine if the first adjudicator (the disability examiner who handled the initial claim) did an accurate job of identifying the claimant's past work since this can have a definite impact on the decisional outcome of an SSD or SSI disability claim.

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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