When the pain or fatigue associated with your illness or injury have combined to prevent you from doing your fulltime job, the time has come to seriously consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. Armed with information about your symptoms and any documentation you have about how they affect your day-to-day functioning, your next step is to contact a Chicago Illinois Social Security attorney. Together with your lawyer, you can gather all of the evidence necessary to optimize your chances of being awarded benefits.
One criterion that the SSA considers in finding whether or not you are disabled is known as your residual functional capacity (RFC). This refers to your ability to continue to perform work-related tasks in spite of the limitations and environmental restrictions stemming from your medically determined impairments. Your RFC is the maximum degree to which you retain the ability for sustained performance of the physical and mental requirements of your job.
A ruling known as SSR 96-8p details what factors should combine to determine your RFC:
- Medical history including laboratory findings
- How treatment has affected you
- Daily activity reports
- Impressions from lay sources who are not medical professionals
- Recorded evidence
- Accounts of what happened when you tried to work
- Work evaluations
- Doctors’ statements.
These criteria underscore the importance of having a positive, ongoing relationship with your doctors, following their treatment plans and obtaining clear statements from them about how your impairment has affected your ability to work. Your doctor’s opinions must be supported by diagnostic and clinical evidence. If they are, SSR 96.8p will help to give your medical professional’s judgment additional weight with the administrative law judge who hears your case.
This ruling also enables you to show the law judge how any of your other non-severe but still disabling conditions combine with your major symptoms to prevent you from working. This underscores the importance of documenting all of your medical issues as you build your case. In short, your RFC can be based on mental limitations such as an inability to focus or carry out instructions, and/or on physical ones such as how much you can lift, how long you can stand, whether you can use your hands or reach, and many others. It is definitely in your best interest to carefully study SSR 96-8p to show how your physical or cognitive limitations preclude you from doing your fulltime job successfully.