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Often at a Social Security disability hearing, there is testimony from the claimant and the vocational witness about missed days at work.

Many disability claims at the hearing level are decided on the basis of missed work days. This is because a claimant’s symptoms and limitations often do not fit neatly into Social Security’s physical RFC categories. And for mental impairments with symptoms that are not at listing-level severity, the issue of missed days is sometimes the most practical basis for an award of benefits.

Claimants frequenty have “bad days,” when their symptoms flare. For some it is more often than not, but for others it might be a bad day every week or two. Quantifying these bad days, and preparing the client to testify about this issue, is an important part of the preparation for hearing. Any supporting evidence of bad days, beyond the claimant’s testimony is highly relevant, and can help to persuade the judge on this issue. That is why I ask some of my clients to keep a journal.

Typically, a vocational witness will testify that 1 absence from work a month would be tolerated by employers, but that two or more absences would not be.