Clients often ask my what Social Security considers in determining their claim. I tell them that Social Security looks at their medical records, doctor’s statements, and their own statements to create a residual function capacity (rfc). This is essentially what activities SSA believes you can do after taking into account all your restrictions. They then apply the RFC to jobs that exist in the national economy to make a decision. But there are things Social Security does not consider. Social Security works in a hypothetical world, not reality. Thus, for SSA many things that matter to the claimant do not matter to them.
1) Social Security does not consider how much money you were making at your previous work and how much you would make at the jobs they say you can do. It doesn’t matter to Social Security that the job they say you can do is at minimum wage and you won’t be able to pay your bills doing it. If you can perform the job, then you’re not disabled. (subject to specific grid rules for those over 50)
2) Social Security does not consider if any employer would hire you. That’s right. Social Security will not consider whether an employer would actually hire you to do the job they say you can do. The question is not whether you can get the employment, but rather if you had the employment could you do the job.
3) Social Security does not consider whether any employers for those jobs are actually hiringanyone. Like the above, Social Security does not ask if any local employers are hiring. They only look at how many jobs exist and whether or nor you could perform that job if given the chance.
4) Social Security does not consider if any of these jobs are located near your home. When determining job numbers, Social Security uses both a regional number and a national number. I have seen regions used at hearing that cover anything from a metro are (which could cover over 100 miles) to an entire state. Social Security does not consider how far away from your current residence these jobs may be located in determining whether you can do those jobs. The expectation by Social Security is that you will just have to up and move for employment.
5) Social Security does not consider any difficulties you have getting to a job. The only time this is considered is if your condition is what causes the difficulties. For example you have seizures and your doctors and the state have restricted your ability to drive. So Social Security will not take into account that you cannot afford a car, that public transportation is not available, that you lost your licenses due to a DUI (OVI), or other license suspension or that you have to rely on family and friends to get you from place to place. Social Security treats you as if you will do whatever it takes to be employed.
Social Security functions under the unrealistic idea that a person applying for disability should do anything to find employment. The claimant should assume many risks, including uprooting themselves, regardless of the costs or expense, for work. These are the harsh reality and the high burden of proving your disability case.
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