Social Security is a large trust fund that acts as both a retirement investment for most workers and a safety net for individuals who become too disabled to continue performing full time jobs. In recent years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had adopted a more hard-line stance towards who can and should qualify for disability benefits. We, at Mission Possible, help claimants demonstrate two character traits that are essential for winning disability cases; credibility and consistency.
What this situation means for the disability claimant is that the SSA wants to deny you benefits. It is not enough to simply prove that you are physically or mentally disabled by societal standards, you must prove that you are disabled according to Social Security’s standards. While this standard is quite complex, it can essentially be boiled down to a single test; whether you are capable of performing substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months, which is currently defined as a monthly income of $1,310 for non blind individuals. Another way of restating this test is whether you can work 8 hours a day for five days a week.
We, at Mission Possible, and many other non-attorney and attorney disability representatives, have seen many claimants be denied benefits upon statements they have made. These are often either statements they have made to treating physicians or statements made directly to Social Security in a prior denial of benefits. Often, these statements are made in a typical conversation and do not explain the reality of the situation. For example, “I went fishing over the weekend.” This statement can and probably will be recorded by a physician, but the reality may have been that the claimant sat in a recliner, due to his/her back pain, and watched others fish, or you fished for an hour and could not get out of bed for two days and had to see a doctor. SSA, however, will see this statement as meaning that you are completely capable of fishing, despite your alleged back disability.
Some of the other activities that, when stated to doctors and put in the Social Security record, have or may result in denials include: fishing, hunting, gardening, landscaping, and exercising. There are many other activities that could result in a denial. Again, we have typically found that these activities were not truly performed by the claimants. Sitting in the truck and watching others hunt is not the same thing as hunting, but SSA will not know this. Lastly, if you are incapable of working without severe pain and discomfort, do not tell SSA that you can work. We have seen claimants denied for saying that they can work, they would work to provide for their family, or they work really hard. Be honest with them, but if working will leave you in severe pain and/or disabled, tell them so.
The Social Security Administration will deny you benefits. You may be 100% worthy of receiving disability benefits, but statements made that imply things that are not true can easily result in denials. Mission Possible is here to ensure that important details are not left out of the record and these minor misunderstandings do not prevent you from being awarded benefits. We want anything you say used against you for your benefit!