Suffering a serious injury or experiencing a medical condition that limits your ability to perform daily activities, care for yourself and work can be a particularly anxiety-inducing experience. For individuals who believe that they were put on this earth to do one job, the experience is typically even more difficult. For these individuals, they have lost not only their sense of identity but they may also fear that there isn’t any other way that they will be able to support themselves or their family. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines if you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, it considers the type of things that you are still able to do. To the SSA is known as your residual functional capacity or RFC. Your RFC is considered in light of your past work, education and training. Furthermore, if you are unable to perform work that you did in the past your RFC will be considered in regard to other types of work that you could perform.
At Step 4 of the sequential evaluation process, the SSA determines if you can perform previous work. If you have a severe impairment that does not rise to the level of listed condition, the SSA will utilize your RFC to determine whether you can perform past work. When considering your RFC the SSA will consider your ability to:
- Cope with changes in one’s work environment
- Handle the physical demands and exertions of a job
- Maintain attention and focus
- Understand instructions
- Carry out instructions
- Interact appropriately with co-workers and supervisors
- Withstand environmental conditions such as temperature, noise, foot traffic, odors, vibrations and others.
Of course, each and every job has its own unique metal, emotional and physical requirements. For instance, office work would typically be classified as sedentary or light work, with its mental and cognitive requirements being greater. By contrast a construction job may constitute moderate to heavy work and often requires the ability to lift and carry heavy object.
However, if the SSA finds that you are able to perform in past occupations there are things that the SSA will not consider. These include whether you would want to continue doing this work, if job openings exist, whether you would be hired for the job, if you would be required to relocate.
At Step 5, the SSA considers if you can perform other types of jobs
If the SSA determines that you are unable to perform previous work, it will then determine if there are other alternative occupations that you will be able to perform. The main factors that the SSA will consider when deciding whether you be able to perform different work include:
- Education & training – The SSA considers your formal education along with any other specialized job or vocational training you may have received. If your level education is greater or less than your records would otherwise indicate, you may present evidence that supports this.
- Work experience – The SSA considers not only the past jobs you have performed, but also you ability to apply those skills to a new context. For instance, if you worked as a field technician the SSA may consider how you could apply those skills to a desk-based job. Your ability to adapt to a new, but related, occupation will be considered.
- Age — Age typically is not a factor for individuals under age 50. However, for those who are 50 or older the SSA will consider whether advancing age limits your ability to adapt to alternate work.
At step 5, the SSA may utilize a vocational expert to determine your ability to perform alternate work. Working with an experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer who understands the types of evidence the SSA looks for can help minimize the often unfavorable opinion of a state vocational expert.
Rely on our attorneys’ experience for your disability claims in Arkansas
At the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak we have fought for hard-working Arkansans who have suffered a serious injury or who have developed a disease or medical condition that forced them to stop working. We understand that the process can be intimidating, therefore we handle each and every step of the process. To schedule a free and confidential SSD consultation, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.