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Testifying about your daily activities at your Clearwater Social Security disability hearing

Our years of experience as Clearwater Social Security disability attorneys have taught us that the success of your case can depend on how well prepared you are to testify at your disability hearing. In particular, your testimony about how your impairment affects your daily activities is very important to show that you are unable to work.  You need to provide details.  Details can make the difference between a denial and an award of benefits.

Here’s a typical situation.  A claimant has to prove she cannot do even a sedentary or easy sit down job to qualify for disability benefits. (Exactly what you might have to prove at your disability hearing depends on the facts of your case and which theory or theories your Clearwater Social Security attorney has chosen to pursue.  See What you must prove to win.

At her disability hearing, the ALJ asks the claimant how she spends her time.  She truthfully testifies that she cooks meals, does dishes and laundry, vacuums and sweeps, buys groceries, goes to the doctor, visits family and friends, and goes on outings.

After hearing this testimony, the ALJ will probably think the claimant can hold down a job.  ALJs often use a claimant’s daily activities as the basis for concluding a claimant is not disabled.

But, in order to hold any job, a person must be able to do sustained work for eight hours a day, five days a week.  Therefore, to win the case, this claimant’s disability attorney must prepare the claimant to provide the details that show she cannot sustain any of her activities for a full work day or week.

Her testimony might establish details such as these:

  • “Cooking” means popping a frozen meal into the microwave because she is in too much pain to stand for long enough to prepare food or cook it over a stove.
  • “Doing the dishes” means she loads the dishwasher, which takes no more than 5 minutes, and runs it once or twice a week.
  • She is able to do laundry only by having her spouse carry the laundry basket to the laundry room where she then loads the washing machine and dryer a few pieces of clothing at a time.
  • She sweeps the kitchen floor no more than once a week and vacuums every other week and afterwards she must lie down for an hour.
  • She shops while riding in a scooter and always goes with her spouse who takes the items from the shelves, places them in the shopping cart, and loads and unloads the grocery bags from the car.
  • She goes on outings only about once a week to play bridge or get her hair done, a spouse or friend always drives her, and she never stays for more than an hour because she is in too much pain and needs to elevate her legs.

Once the claimant’s Clearwater Social Security lawyer has elicited these critical details about her limitations, she stands a better chance of being approved for benefits.  Similarly, the critical details about your ability to sustain activities (whatever they may be) may show that your activities are well within the limits of what you can do and still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Clearwater Social Security disability attorneys at Lillesand and Associates can help

A claimant who is not properly prepared or not represented by a Social Security attorney can easily fall into the trap of not providing sufficient detail about how his or her impairment affects daily life. 

An experienced Clearwater Social Security disability lawyer can guide you in this important area and assist you at your hearing by asking you questions that will draw out the critical details.  If you are not already represented by a Clearwater Social Security attorney and want our evaluation of your case, give us a brief description of your claim using the form to the right.  Or you may contact us at:

Lillesand & Associates, P.A.
Clearwater Florida Social Security disability attorneys

E-mail us

Clearwater Office
901 Chestnut Street, Suite C
Clearwater, Florida 33756
Phone: (727) 330-7895

St. Petersburg Office
146 2nd Street North, Suite 310
St. Petersburg FL 33701-3361
Phone: (727) 330-7895