Why multiple assessments are needed to determine disability

The amount of Social Security Disability benefits a person is eligible to receive depends in part on how much their ability to function has been impacted by their injury or illness There are a number of tests that can be used to assess people's work-related functions (both physical and mental).

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), which oversees the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program as well as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, uses functional assessments as well as health records and reports from health care providers when considering a person's application for benefits.

A single functional assessment rarely provides an accurate picture of whether a person can handle the demands of a job. For one thing, they're generally done in a controlled setting rather than a real-life workplace. Further, a person may be able to lift a 50-pound box once during an assessment. However, lifting multiple boxes throughout the course of a day, let alone on a regular basis if they returned to work, might be impossible.

Further, it's necessary to consider the side effects of any medications or treatment a person is undergoing and their impact on their ability to work. Another important consideration is that some conditions have intermittent or changing symptoms while others become progressively worse.

According to a recently published report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, assessments that use multiple types of tests repeated over a period of time give the most accurate information. It's necessary to determine whether a person can meet not just the physical demands of a job but the mental ones as well.

Not everyone has equal access to the most accurate functional assessment tests. Some people simply don't know what kinds of tests they can and should ask for. If you believe that you're being denied the benefits you need and deserve because you haven't gotten the proper functional assessments, it may be wise to consult with an experienced disability attorney to help ensure that you have the best chance of qualifying for those benefits.

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