There are many ways to prove that someone cannot hold a job. A claimant must prove an inability to engage in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) in order to be found disabled under Social Security’s law. SGA means being able to work full-time, in competitive employment. This can also means the person cannot consistently miss 4-5 days of work a month due to illness. In very clear cases, someone may “meet a Listing” for a physical or psychological disability. This means the condition matches the specific Social Security “Listing” regulation defining disability for that illness. The Listings can be seen online at: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/adultlistings.pdf.
If a claimant cannot meet a “Listing” the case may still be won by proving that symptoms and side effects of the disability significantly reduce productivity. The impairment must be at such a level that no employer would keep them on, or offer a job to them. The person would not be able to work sufficient consecutive hours, or even days per month, to maintain employment. Lack of productivity may be caused by fatigue, a need to lie down because of pain, a need for isolation due to a psychiatric disorder, or simply frequent absences.
Often the medical records do not fully document these side effects and symptoms. Our office works with medical providers to get full and complete detail about any situation that may impair productivity. In addition, we call witnesses at a hearing to help document the limitations, and solicit letters from family members, friends, former co-workers, pastors and the like.
The medical records may be just the beginning of the story – we work to ensure a happy ending to the financial chapter of the claimant’s condition.