Indiana Disability Lawyers | How a judge evaluates your ability to work in an Indiana disability case
Many of the people seeking Social Security disability benefits who visit my Bloomington or Columbus Indiana disability benefits office ask me, “Am I eligible for Indiana disability benefits?” Our Indiana Disability Lawyers are here to help you!
I tell them that age, education, recent jobs, and most important, ability to work, are what count the most in determining whether one is eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration, in Indiana and nationally, uses what it calls a “sequential evaluation process” to determine whether or not you are sufficiently disabled to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If it finds that you are disabled or not disabled at a step then the determination is over and it does not go on to the next step.
Read the articles in The disability evaluation process, located in my Library below, for more information about the five-step sequential evaluation process.
What does the Social Security Administration mean by “residual functional capacity” when evaluating whether to award you Indiana disability benefits
In applying the sequential evaluation process, the Social Security Administration uses some very technical words and phrases. One of those technical phrases is “residual functional capacity.”
If you can still do your “past relevant work,” then your “residual functional capacity” shows that you are not disabled. In the words of the Social Security Administration regulation describing its fourth step:
“. . . we will assess and make a finding about your residual functional capacity based on all the relevant medical and other evidence in your case record, as explained in §404.1545. (See paragraph (g)(2) of this section and §404.1562 for an exception to this rule.) We use our residual functional capacity assessment at the fourth step of the sequential evaluation process to determine if you can do your past relevant work (paragraph (f) of this section) and at the fifth step of the sequential evaluation process (if the evaluation proceeds to this step) to determine if you can adjust to other work . . ..
Understanding just what the Social Security Administration means by “residual functional capacity” and “past relevant work” and “other work” is both important and complicated, and it is critical to have good legal advice in dealing with these things.
As a Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney, I can help Social Security disability claimants in Bloomington, Columbus and throughout Central and Southern Indiana through this complex and technical world of the Social Security Administration process.
Your impairment must prevent you from being able to work
When the Social Security Administration talks about “residual functional capacity” it means what you can still do despite your impairment. And when the Social Security Administration looks at what you can do, it doesn’t mean just the job that you recently worked at. Instead, it means those other two phrases that it gives special definitions to: “past relevant work” and “other work.”
When the Social Security Administration analyzes whether or not you are still able to do “past relevant work” it is looking to see whether you are able to any work that you have done in the last 15 years that you did long enough to learn how to do it. To analyze this, the Social Security Administration gets an opinion from a Vocational Expert about whether you are able to do some job that you had in the past. It is obviously a problem for your claim if the Vocational Expert says that, despite your limitations from your impairment, you are able to do a job that you have done in the past.
Once again, good legal assistance is crucial. Among other things, an Indiana disability attorney can help you hold the Social Security Administration to the “relevant” part of the “past relevant work” definition.
Even if you are able to demonstrate that you cannot perform “past relevant work,” the Social Security Administration will still look at whether you can perform “other work.”
Just as with the question of whether or not you can do work you have done in the past, the Social Security Administration gets an opinion from a Vocational Expert about whether or not you can do other work, and this becomes an even more complicated issue. The Vocational Expert is expected to consider not just other work in Indiana, but any other work that exists “in significant numbers in the national economy.” Furthermore, the Vocational Expert is supposed to do this while considering not just your work ability, but also your age, education, and work experience.
And again, good legal assistance is important to help you navigate through the twists and turns of the technical Social Security definitions and rules.
Contact an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Today
Dealing with the specialized vocabulary of the Social Security Administration can be confusing and frustrating. I have the experience and knowledge in this area to give you the help that you need through this process.
If you are not already represented by Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney and want my evaluation of your case, give me a brief description of your claim using the form to the right.
Or you may e-mail or call my office.
Serving Social Security disability claimants in Columbus, Bloomington and throughout Central and Southern Indiana