Social Security Disability, whether SSI or SSDI, requires that you are unable to perform work-like activity. But the type of work-like activity you might be able to perform can vary widely from person to person depending on their skillset. A significant part of any Social Security denial appeal is devoted to demonstrating that there is a clear barrier that your disabling condition is creating to you being able to work or earn a wage.
In addition to demonstrating that you cannot do work with your current knowledge, skills, and abilities, you will also have to prove that you cannot be re-trained to do any other type of work.
While you may be focused on proving that you have a diagnosis or asking doctors their opinions on your conditions, you might be surprised to find that demonstrating your inability to work may be your biggest challenge in overcoming a denied claim.
Here’s a bit more about the process of proving your disability.
The Role of a Vocational Expert in a Disability Claim
After you appeal a disability denial, your claim goes through a reconsideration phase. If at reconsideration, the SSA still believes they denied your claim correction, you will have an opportunity to appeal your denial before a judge (ALJ – administrative law judge). In your hearing before the ALJ, a vocational expert will be called to testify and give expert testimony on your skills, abilities, and the availability of jobs that would match them, given your level of impairment.
The testimony of the Vocational Expert, and the questions of your disability attorney, are critical in helping the ALJ determine whether or not your disability has an impact on your ability to perform the tasks you would otherwise be qualified and able to do.
Undergo an Assessment or Skills Test
During the course of your disability claim or your appeal, you may be asked to undergo an assessment or skills test to determine if you still have the physical capabilities to do the job you held before the diagnosis of your disability.
The skills test may prove that you can no longer perform those tasks related to your previous employment. However, it may indicate that you can be re-trained to do similar work that doesn’t require the same tasks you performed prior to your injury or condition.
Generally, the skills test will assess the degree of your physical limitations and allow a vocational expert to make a better determination.
Keep an Accurate Account of Both Your Past Employment and Medical Records
Several factors go into disability determination; one of them is your age. If you have reached an age where being re-trained is more of a hardship than an asset, you may be eligible for disability without having to go through the skills/assessment test we discussed above. More than age, though, your previous work history, and medical story (or fact pattern) will tell much of your story.
It’s for this reason, after you file your claim, when waiting for a determination, after receiving your denial, or at any other stage of your attempt to get SSI or SSDI, you need to be reviewing, brainstorming, and cataloging your employment and medical history. Why?
The reason your records are so valuable to your claim or appeal is that they tell a story of you at your best, you at your worst, and you today (even if it’s not one of those two extremes). Your disability story will be much more compelling if you can tell it with supporting evidence from your own past.
For example, instead of making the case that your back is injured so you can’t work anymore. A detailed work and medical history will tell the story that: you used to be a star employee, work 40+ hours a week, train new employees, and took 5 medical days off in 10 years before your injury. After your injury, you spend an average of 2 days a week at a different doctor. You went from star employee to being let go. When you have attempted to work a part time job, your frequent doctors’ appointments created a barrier. Even when you didn’t have doctors’ appointments, your injuries caused you to need to take a day off for emergency care. All of this, of course, supported by documentation.
Call and Talk to a Disability Attorney Today!
When applying for disability, it might be up to you to prove that you are no longer capable of working and earning a wage, but you don’t have to do it alone!
At Joel Thrift Law, the goal is to help you get the answers you need when pursuing a disability claim.
We will help you fight your unfair SSI or SSDI disability denial.