If you are using a reduced functional capacity theory of disability in your SSDI or SSI case, you need to present all evidence that will demonstrate that you do not have the capacity to reliably perform even simple, entry-level work.
The starting point for your case should be your medical record – after all, Social Security defines disability in terms of how your medically determinable impairment prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
However, you can make your case stronger by including non-medical evidence in your claims file. Any evidence that helps the adjudicator or judge understand why you would not be a reliable employee will help.
Records from Past Employment
One example of non-medical evidence that you can use are records from you past job or jobs. What better evidence of your capacity and performance of work could there be?
Write-ups from employee file documenting excessive absences from work, performance write-ups due to poor attention and concentration, or write-ups caused by problems you had interacting with co-workers, supervisors or the general public represent how your medical issues are impacting you in the real world.
Further, it is unlikely that a Social Security judge will question the truthfulness of employment records produced by employers about someone who presumably wants to remain employed. By contrast a judge might question the truthfulness of your statements to medical doctors since you stand to benefit financially from a report that describes serious symptoms.
In addition to employee files, you can ask former co-workers or supervisors to sign affidavits (sworn statements) describing problems you had with attendance, performance or attitude. These statements, like employee file information represent real life observations about what actually happened at work as opposed to predictions from doctors about what might happen if you tried to work.
Records from Elementary, High School or College
School records can also serve as persuasive evidence, especially if the medical or mental health problem that you claim is disabling is a lifetime or long term problem. Here, too, teachers, school psychologists and school administrators will be viewed as credible sources in their descriptions of issues you had years ago.
Even if you managed to work through your childhood or adolescent problems, you can make a compelling argument that longstanding issues with depression, learning problems, or behavior problems have again become a problem as you have aged.
Other Non-Medical Evidence Ideas
Other non-medical evidence that I have used when arguing that my client’s capacity for work has been eroded by his/her medical conditions include:.
- affidavits from friends and family members
- affidavits from former customers who observed my client’s performance decline
- disability awards from other agencies like the VA or private long term disability carriers (these findings of disability are not binding on Social Security but my experience has been that SSD judges do read them and will consider the reasoning behind these awards)
- job performance awards – shows that you were a hardworking and dedicated employee
- photos and videos (if they are not too self serving)
- handicap parking passes
- handicap airline passes
Compared to most other court proceedings, Social Security cases allow disability judges to consider just about any relevant evidence. If you have information that can help explain why you would not be a reliable employee you should discuss with your attorney how this information or evidence might be able to make your case stronger..