Disabled individuals in California may apply for Social Security disability benefits on the basis of a physical or mental condition that impairs their ability to work. A mental disability may be proven with medical records from an applicant’s psychologist or psychiatrist, family physician and any other medical provider who has treated the applicant for the mental condition.

Ideally, the records should contain information about an applicant’s ability to perform daily tasks. The administration and hearing examiner will look for evidence that skills such as concentration, learning new tasks, following instructions and getting along with others have been affected by the disability.

The administration will also look for evidence of episodes of decomposition. An episode of decompensation is deterioration of a person who was previously functioning at an adequate level. Severe periods of stress, depression, fatigue or psychiatric illness that interfere with a person’s ability to work can lead to job loss over time.

Many applicants are approved even if they have not suffered from any periods of decompensation if there is substantial evidence that their condition affects their ability to work. The administration will consider all the conditions that an applicant has when it makes a decision. Many applicants suffer from both physical and mental impairments that lead to an inability to work.

An attorney may be able to help applicants who have applied for Social Security disability benefits obtain a favorable decision. The lawyer may make sure that the administration has an applicant’s entire record for consideration. An attorney may be able to request a letter from the applicant’s primary care physician detailing how the claimant’s conditions interfere with his or her ability to work. Lawyers may also be able to attend a hearing before an administrative law judge and question the administration’s vocational expert and offer testimony from the claimant.