Social Security must evaluate a claimant's ability to work on a regular and continuing basis at steps 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation. A "regular and continuing basis" means 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule (essentially, full-time work). See Social Security Ruling 96-8p and POMS Section DI 24510.057.
For most of the disability and SSI claims that I see, the claimant's ability to work on a regular and continuing basis is severely compromised.
A disability lawyer should develop evidence that will lead the decisionmaker to the conclusion that full-time work is not possible. Several different types of evidence can help:
- At the top of the list is a medical source statement from a treating physician or other medical professional stating that the claimant cannot perform essential work-related functions on a full-time basis.
- A statement of a friend or a relative. This statement should be considered by the ALJ regarding the severity of the claimant's impairments. See Social Security Ruling 06-03p.
- Keep a journal. This will help to track your symptoms, and how many "bad days" you experience.
- The claimant's testimony at the hearing. I always spend time preparing my client for this testimony, because I want to present a genuine and authentic portrait of what the claimant's life is now like. I often have the claimant discuss specific examples of events that were missed due to the impairments.
You will be found disabled at step 5 if the judge determines that you cannot work on a regular and continuing basis. You should present compelling evidence to lead the judge to this conclusion.