November 1, 2019

Social Security Disability Benefits Because You Have Difficulties Concentrating and Focusing

Are you able to Social Security disability benefits because you have difficulties concentrating and focusing?  Problems with concentration and focus can have a huge impact on keeping a job.  While employers do have some tolerance for a worker to be off task, there is a limit to what they will allow. Excessive time off task can lead to the worker being terminated.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes this and can find you disabled because of it.  There may be various reasons for this problem, and if you can successfully show the SSA and/or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that this is preventing you from maintaining employment, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

When talking to my clients, I find one of the major reasons they cannot work is due to pain.  Every person is different, and their tolerance for pain can vary.  At some point, the pain can be so severe that it will prevent someone from staying focused on their job tasks.  If pain is severe enough, many individuals find they are unable to concentrate long enough to complete even the simplest of job tasks.  Another common cause of difficulty with concentration or focus can be a severe mental condition.  Individuals with severe mental diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD may result in racing thoughts, disinterest in any activity, and a diminished cognitive ability to perform work on a continuing basis.

I have noticed the SSA has difficulty recognizing these types of symptoms in the early stages of the claims process.  With so many initial applications, the SSA tends to evaluate claims largely on an objective basis rather than giving much credit to subjective complaints that can be caused by a severe diagnosis.  Fortunately, if you follow through with the Appeals process and your case ends up in front of an ALJ, the issue of concentration and focus can be considered in more detail to show the severity of your condition.  At your adult Social Security disability hearing, there will almost always be a Vocational Expert (VE) there to testify as to their experiences with employer tolerances for off-task behavior.  While VE opinions can vary, most testify that off-task behavior greater than 10 percent on an ongoing basis will result in termination.  This testimony can help an ALJ decide that you are indeed disabled and deserving of Social Security disability benefits.

As with all claims, statements from your treating medical providers regarding your inability to concentrate or focus can carry weight in persuading the ALJ that you are unable to perform work-like activities consistently enough to hold down a full-time job.

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