The Disability Expert

A Free Guide to Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits




Your Ability to Do Mental Work-Related Functions and Your Social Security Disability Claim

By R. M. Bottger

When you apply for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate how your medical condition limits your ability to perform functions that are needed in order to work. (See How Your Condition Affects Your Ability to Function: The Key to Disability Benefits.) When evaluating your disability claim, SSA will look at how your mental condition affects your ability to perform the following work-related functions:

  • The ability to remember locations and work-like procedures
  • The ability to understand and remember very short and simple instructions
  • The ability to understand and remember detailed instructions
  • The ability to carry out very short and simple instructions
  • The ability to carry out detailed instructions
  • The ability to maintain concentration for extended periods
  • The ability to perform activities within a schedule, maintain regular attendance, and maintain punctuality within customary tolerances
  • The ability to sustain an ordinary routine without special supervision
  • The ability to work in coordination with or proximity to others without being distracted by them
  • The ability to make simple work-related decisions
  • The ability to complete a normal work day and work week without interruptions from psychological symptoms and to perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods
  • The ability to interact with the general public
  • The ability to ask simple questions or request assistance
  • The ability to accept instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors
  • The ability to get along with coworkers without distracting them or exhibiting behavioral extremes
  • The ability to maintain socially appropriate behavior and to adhere to basic standards of neatness and cleanliness
  • The ability to respond appropriately to changes in the work setting
  • The ability to be aware of normal hazards and take appropriate precautions
  • The ability to travel in unfamiliar places or take public transportation
  • The ability to make realistic goals or take make plans independently of others


Whenever you are filling out forms for SSA, talking to your disability determination specialist on the phone, or are being examined by a doctor for SSA, be sure to communicate all the ways in which your condition limits your ability to do these work-related functions. If you have your doctor write a letter to SSA for you, have him or her address how your condition limits your ability to do these work-related functions.











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