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Work-Related Functional Abilities

When you file a claim to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, one of the things you must prove is that, because of an accident or condition, you are considered disabled and no longer capable of doing any meaningful the work. Therefore, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will need to make a determination on whether you are truly incapable of performing your former job duties or other meaningful work.

The SSA has many tests to determine your work-related functional abilities. But one test alone is not able to assess every factor contributing to your disability, so it is important that you and SSA collect data from a variety of sources. These sources include standardized reports every claimant has to fill out with an application for benefits, health records, and functional assessments from health care providers.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine called the “Functional Assessment for Adults with Disabilities” stresses the importance of gathering information from multiple sources. For example, let’s say one of your former job duties required you to lift 25-pound items throughout the day. You might be able to lift such an item now, but if you can’t do so repeatedly for an entire work day, you cannot perform the duties of your former job. You likely need to take a variety of assessments to paint the full picture of your disability.

The same goes for any medications you are on to assist with your condition. If you are capable of performing your former job duties without medication, but the medication you have to take impairs your ability to do so, you cannot function at work.

The best assessments measure your abilities and limitations over time and test them in a variety of settings. There may be some tasks that you can only perform at certain times of the day and others only on certain days. And assessments need to be provided regardless of your socio-economic status: just because you cannot afford a physical or psychological evaluation doesn’t mean you’re not disabled. SSD benefits should not be available just for citizens who can afford to prove that they are truly disabled.