Columbus disability lawyer explains how Social Security evaluates a claimant’s ability to work

Nationally, as in Ohio, Social Security disability is a function-based program. The Social Security Administration wants to know if you are able to function (i.e., to sit, stand, walk, bend, manipulate small objects, etc.), despite the limitations caused by your disability, to such an extent that you are able to work. In the language of the Social Security Administration, this is known as your “residual functional capacity.”

Three work levels

In assessing your residual functional capacity, the Social Security Administration considers three different work levels:

Sedentary work is work that involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying small tools or other small items. Sedentary work requires long periods of sitting, broken up by occasional walking and standing (but generally not more than 2 hours of walking/standing in an 8-hour day). Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good manual dexterity for repetitive tasks.

Light work requires lifting not more than 20 pounds at a time, with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. The full range of light work requires standing or walking for approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday. A job also is considered “light work” if it involves sitting for most of the time, with some pushing and pulling of arm-hand or leg-foot controls.

Medium work is defined by the Social Security regulations as work that requires lifting no more than 50 pounds at a time, with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds, and good use of the arms and hands to grasp, hold, and turn objects. In most medium-work jobs, standing or walking for most of the day (approximately 6 hours) is critical. Moreover, to accomplish the heavy lifting that is part of medium work, frequent stooping and bending usually is required, so flexibility of the torso and knees is important.

Proving your inability to work

At the outset, it can be difficult to establish your limited ability to work. The state agency decision-makers who review initial applications for Ohio Social Security disability benefits tend to rigidly apply specific, government-mandated formulas to determine a claimant’s residual functional capacity for certain medical impairments. Consequently, they tend to treat all claimants with similar medical findings the same, and seldom consider other unique factors that may bear upon an individual’s ability to work.

If your initial application for Columbus Social Security disability benefits was denied based on your residual functional capacity, do not despair. You have a much better chance of proving the disabling nature of your impairment on appeal, particularly if you pursue your appeal all the way to a hearing before an administrative law judge. Your odds of success improve because administrative law judges tend to look beyond the medical findings and take a “big picture” approach to evaluating your case. The administrative law judge will consider all the evidence – medical findings and witness statements, as well as your testimony and your credibility – and make an individualized assessment of your ability to work.

A Columbus disability lawyer can help you prepare for your hearing

Your hearing before the administrative law judge is your first (and, likely, last) opportunity to meet the person who will be deciding your case and to persuade him or her that you are unable to work because of your impairment. A Columbus disability lawyer can help you make the most of this opportunity, by explaining the hearing process and preparing you to testify. At the Law Office of Eric A. Jones, we will meet with you well in advance of your hearing to review possible questions you may be asked. We will explain the difference between strong testimony (testimony that is detailed and filled with personal anecdotes) and weak testimony (short responses, void of details). We will discuss your daily activities and make sure you are comfortable talking about your limitations. When your hearing date arrives, you will know what to expect, so you will be able to relax and give your best testimony.

Free Case Evaluation

An experienced Columbus disability lawyer can help you present your strongest case to the Social Security Administration. If you would to talk with us about your Ohio Social Security disability claim, please complete the Free Claim Evaluation form to the right. We will respond promptly. Alternatively, you may email us or call our office.

Eric A. Jones
Columbus disability lawyer

Phone: 614-545-9998
Fax: 614-224-9300

Jones Law Group, LLC
513 E. Rich Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215