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I tell Cleveland and other Northeast Ohio area claimants that the success of their case may depend largely on how good a job their Cleveland Social Security Disability Lawyer does in eliciting critical facts during their hearing. The details about how your impairment affects your daily activities are very important. Delving into these details can make the difference between a denial and an award of benefits.
Let’s illustrate with a specific example. Suppose a claimant does not qualify for disability benefits based on the medical evidence alone (i.e., her impairment does not meet or equal a Listing). But considering her age, education, and past experience, she will be disabled under Social Security disability rules if she can prove that she cannot do any more than sedentary work, an easy sit down job.
At her hearing the administrative law judge (ALJ) asks the claimant about her activities. The claimant testifies that she can wash dishes, do laundry, vacuum and sweep the floor, prepare meals, take walks, go shopping, attend medical appointments, mow and water the lawn, visit relatives, go on family outings, and perform minor household maintenance. At this point, it looks like the claimant might lose the case because she can do too much. ALJs routinely use a claimant’s activities of daily living as the primary basis for finding a claimant is not disabled.
But, in order to be capable of holding even a sedentary job, the claimant must be capable of sustained work on a regular and continuing basis. A regular and continuing basis generally means eight hours a day, five days a week. Therefore, to win the case, the claimant’s disability lawyer must elicit testimony establishing that the claimant cannot sustain any of these activities for a full work week.
Suppose the claimant walks one to one and a half miles twice weekly. She and her Cleveland Social Security Disability Lawyer should never try to hide that fact. But they may be able to truthfully explain why this activity does not prove she can work by exploring the details. Perhaps the walk is prescribed rehabilitative therapy, and she is able to walk only 10 minutes at a time before she must sit to rest; after resting 15 minutes, she can walk another 10 minutes.
Additional testimony might establish things such as the following:
Once the claimant’s Cleveland Social Security Disability Lawyer has elicited the critical facts about the claimant’s ability to sustain activities (whatever they may be), these may show that her activities are well within the limits of what she can do and still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Skillful representation at your Social Security disability hearing is essential. If you are not already represented by a Cleveland Social Security Disability Lawyer and want an evaluation of your case, call the Law Offices of John Paul Oreh at 216-896-0935.