When California residents apply for Social Security Disability benefits, they must show that their conditions substantially limited their ability to function. Although people must provide honest information, they should not downplay how their mental or physical problems influence or limit their daily lives.

Claims examiners at the Social Security Administration might seek information about an applicant’s functional limitations from medical records, questionnaire responses and interviews with the applicant and the person’s third-party contact. An applicant should disclose every way that a condition impedes daily functions. These anecdotal statements matter because medical records often fail to make a complete accounting of how a disease impacts someone’s ability to reach above the head, bend over, remember things, walk or perform work duties.

After investigating functional limitations, examiners will review their findings with the physician or psychologist who serves their office. Together they will determine if an applicant can perform a previous job or pursue a new type of job. If functional limitations appear to undermine the ability to perform any occupation, then the agency might decide to award benefits.

The guidance of an attorney familiar with the process of applying for SSD could improve a person’s chances of successfully collecting disability benefits. An attorney could prepare a person to provide thorough answers to questions about mobility or cognitive difficulties. A review of medical records by an attorney might catch problems with vague medical reports that do not mention functional limitations. An attorney might try to obtain more complete statements about the mental or physical challenges troubling a person and provide the claims examiner with enough information to make a decision.