Here’s an insider tip about disability compensation that very few people know: information about job losses can be like gold for disability benefits applicants.
Why? If your employment is terminated—maybe even on more than one occasion—because a mental or physical impairment makes it impossible to meet your employer’s requirements for your position—it supports your argument that you are unable to work and you are entitled to disability benefits.
Proof of multiple job losses, or even one job loss, demonstrates that you have made the effort to work, but were unable to continue due to your impairment. This can be persuasive evidence to a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) who will decide the merits of your case at a disability benefits appeal hearing.
As we wrote about in a previous blog post, it is not enough to say you have a disability. It is not even enough to have your doctor say you are “disabled.”
In the final analysis, the term “disabled” in itself doesn’t really mean much to the Social Security Administration (SSA). You have to prove that your medical condition (or combination of conditions) prevents you from sustaining employment.
Although the most important evidence to support your claim is accurate and complete medical records from doctors, clinics and hospitals to determine how severe your physical or mental condition is, job losses due to an impairment can also be strong supporting evidence for your case.
For example, a disability law client, who we will call “Bill,” was diagnosed with schizophrenia. To his credit, he tried diligently to hold onto a temp job.
However, one day at work, he lost control of his temper, attacked his supervisor, and his employment was promptly terminated.
Our disability lawyers were able to win benefits for him, in part because the ALJ recognized that Bill had made a good faith effort at employment, but ultimately was unable to continue working due to his mental illness.
It is important to accurately describe how a job ended. For example, we often find that clients will say they were “laid off” rather than acknowledging that they were fired due to symptoms of their medical conditions.
This is understandable. We all have our pride. However, when Ford eliminates 1,000 jobs at once, that is an example of a layoff. On the flip side, if you are let go because you can’t keep up with your employer’s requirements, that is a job termination. Facing this reality and describing your situation accurately can improve your odds of winning disability benefits.
Something similar occurred when we spoke with Bill about his job losses. He attempted multiple work assignments through a temp agency, yet was never able to finish an assignment due to his mental health symptoms.
When we first asked Bill how his jobs ended, he said, “They were only temp jobs.” When we dug deeper and asked more questions, we found that he had a “do not return” notation on his temp agency file due to his behavior. While the jobs were, in fact, temporary jobs, that was not the reason he no longer held them.
If you are struggling to hold onto a job due to a qualifying physical or mental impairment, we strongly recommend that you keep a “job journal.”
In your journal—which can be kept on your computer or even in a simple notebook—keep a record of your employment, including things like written warnings for absences, mistakes, and other workplace infractions, in addition to the dates and details of terminations.
If you are considering applying for disability benefits for any impairment that prevents you from getting and holding a job, our advice is to keep a written record and apply for benefits as early as you can.
If you want a free evaluation of your disability case, call or email us at Nash Disability Law .