Social Security frames its definition of disability in terms of work capacity. If you have a medical or mental health condition that prevents you from performing the tasks of a simple, entry-level job, you stand a good chance at winning your SSDI or SSI claim. 1
When you appear at your hearing, the judge will most likely call a vocational witness to serve as an expert [Learn more about what actually happens at a disability hearing by clicking here]. The judge will ask the vocational witness a series of question to help the judge understand whether any jobs exist in the regional or national economy that you could do, given your medical limitations.
Because Social Security is so focused on work capacity, you may be wondering if non-medical factors are considered by Social Security – matters such as:
- you have no transportation to get to a job
- a very poor job market in your community
- the pay offered by one of these simple, entry-level jobs would not be enough to support your family
- the likelihood that you would not pass a pre-employment physical
- your personal experience that employers are not likely to hire a person with XYZ impairments
- difficulty getting back into the workforce after being out for months or years
In the Social Security world, the factors described above and others like them are not part of an administrative law judge’s consideration. The only issue – if a simple, entry-level job was available, could you perform it 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. All of the other issues – transportation, pay, job market, etc. – are not considered.
Remember, in a disability case, you have the burden of proving that you cannot reliably work any type of job. It may not seem fair to you that you have to fight so hard to get money out when you paid taxes into the system for so many years, but this is the system Social Security has created and you have no other choice.
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