Requiring unscheduled breaks due to a medical condition can be significant in proving entitlement to Social Security Disability

Every year I handle many Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income cases in the Daytona/Ormond/Flager Beach areas.  There are numerous factors to consider when trying to prove that an individual is incapable of substantial gainful employment.  In addition to medical evidence, there is also a vocational element in proving disability.  At almost all Social Security hearings, a Vocational expert will be present at the hearing to offer testimony on the issue of whether an applicant is capable of past work or any work in the national economy.

There are many vocational factors considered: past relevant work (the last 15 years), physical limitations, skill level and whether the skills are transferable and of course age.  These are just a few of the vocational issues in a social security case.  Essentially, the vocational expert is trying to determine if there is work available based on an applicant's work history, skills and physical/mental limits.

However, experience has shown that there are some vocational factors that will significantly impact disability determinations, regardless of work history, age, education or skills.  These factors involve absence from the work place or work station.  Often referred to as being "off task".  Establishing that a worker would be "off task" more than most employers will tolerate will usually require some medical evidence to support the allegation.  "Off task" can include several examples, but for the purpose of this discussion, I will include the top two: unscheduled breaks and/or missing more than 3-4 days of work per month due to illness or disabling condition.

I have gone before Social Security Judges on many occasions and I have yet to find a vocational expert who will testify that if a worker is likely to miss 3-4 scheduled work days a month, or will need unscheduled breaks throughout the workday, that an employer will accommodate such needs.  In a normal workday, a worker typically gets a morning break, lunch break and afternoon break.  The remainder of the day, an employer expects a worker to be "on task".  Therefore, if a worker requires more than the allotted breaks, an employer will likely not tolerate the frequent absences from a work station.  Of course, it will also depend on the number of absences as to whether it is significant enough to disrupt employment.   The same holds true for missing 3-4 work days per month.  Over a year long period, a worker would miss a month or more, in addition to regularly scheduled vacations, holidays, etc.  This is simply too much time "off task" for the average employer to tolerate.

Therefore, when applying for Social Security Disability, it is important to remember that there are other factors to consider other than how much weight you can pick up and carry.  It may also be necessary to have an attorney acquire this information from a doctor by way of a questionnaire submitted to the Social Security Judge.

If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, please contact Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. for a free consultation at 1-800-556-8890.