Functional Limitations and Your Social Security Disability Claim

August 8, 2018
Dayes Law Firm

One of the most important factors in any Social Security Disability claim is your functional limitations. These are the limitations or things you are incapable of doing because of your disability. Your functional limitations are a primary component of the Residual Functional Capacity evaluation and can have a direct impact on whether your disability claim is approved.

A skilled Social Security disability lawyer in Phoenix from Dayes Law Firm PC can help you with every aspect of applying for disability benefits, including documenting your functional limitations. We can also explain how your functional limitations may impact your claim.

Questions About Functional Limitations

When you apply for benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will try to determine your functional limitations. Some of the questions they will try to answer about your functional limitations include:

How Much You Can Lift?

The SSA will try to determine how much you can lift on a frequent or occasional basis. If you cannot lift that much, this might limit the types of jobs that you can do.

How Long You Can Sit or Stand?

The SSA will also determine your ability to sit or stand for a certain period of time. This limitation can have a significant impact on your ability to work in certain jobs. Evaluators will also consider whether you need to take breaks or transition between sitting and standing positions during a work shift.

Are You Having Hearing or Vision Problems?

Another important limitation to understand is your ability to hear or see. If you have vision problems, you might not be able to safely operate heavy machinery. Hearing problems may cause you to have difficulty working in jobs that require you to use the phone a lot. More profound vision or hearing loss may prevent you from working in many jobs.

How Well Can You Bend, Stoop or Crouch?

Some jobs may require workers to bend, stoop or crouch. However, if you have knee or back problems, you may have difficulty with these work-related tasks.

How is Your Ability to Reach Affected?

Another area that will be evaluated is your ability to reach forward and overhead. Certain conditions like degenerative disc disease or arthritis might impair these abilities.

Is Your Ability to Grasp Objects Affected?

The SSA will also determine whether your ability to perform dexterous finger movements or to grasp objects is impaired. Many sedentary jobs involve using fine motor skills. This can be a problem for people with a variety of physical disabilities.

Do You Have any Mental Limitations?

The SSA must also consider psychiatric or psychological impairments, such as depression and anxiety. Evaluators give you a separate mental residual functional capacity. The SSA can consider certain factors such as having trouble remembering things, following instructions or retaining new information.

Do You Have Good Days and Bad Days?

Many claimants have certain days that are better than others. Your functional limitations may be worse on some days than they are on others. For example, on good days you might be able to go out, get groceries, complete household chores and perform yard work. On other days, you may be overwhelmed with pain, be immobilized and be unable to even get up let alone perform any household chores.

It is important to indicate in your application for disability benefits that you have such good days and bad days. Simply stating that you can perform the tasks indicated on your good days can cause the SSA to believe that you are fully capable of performing these tasks all the time. Be sure that you clear up this misunderstanding early on by consistently stating what happens on bad days so that claim evaluators will have a more accurate picture of your limitations.

Documenting Your Limitations

You can help strengthen your claim by documenting your limitations. There are a few effective ways to do this, such as:

  • Asking for physician’s clinic notes – When you receive periodic treatment, be sure that you mention your limitations and the location, intensity, frequency and duration of the pain you suffer. When you file for disability and request your medical records, ask for your physician’s notes to show that you have discussed your limitations.
  • Maintaining a diary – Maintain a diary in which you detail the limitations that you encounter, such as not being able to pick up your child or not being able to get out of bed because of excruciating pain.
  • Obtaining a third-party statement – Ask former coworkers, neighbors, friends or family members to write down the limitations that they have personally observed and submit this statement to the SSA.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you would like more information about how functional limitations affect your disability claim, contact Dayes Law Firm PC. We can discuss your impairments during a free, no obligation consultation.

We can represent you on contingency, which means there is no fee unless you receive compensation. There is no risk to contact us and discuss your situation to find out how we may be able to help.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation form today or call 1-800-503-2000.