January 18, 2020

The Functional Capacity Strategy

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and is recognized as a serious mental illness in the DSM IV and DSM V. PTSD can arise from a variety of causes, including:

  • surviving a bad accident, especially one where a friend or loved one was killed or seriously injured
  • living through a traumatic event (or just witnessing one)
  • physical abuse as a child, in a bad relationship or in the military
  • rape or sexual assault at any time
  • combat duty in the military
  • non-combat duty but exposure to disturbing events

PTSD causes the affected individual to feel afraid or stressed even after danger has passed. Additionally, it can disrupt a person’s lifestyle to the extent that he/she is no longer able to work at even entry level, low-pressure, and/or unskilled jobs. Not only this, but it seriously impacts the people around the individual suffering with PTSD.

Certain problems can arise after the onset of PTSD including the following:

  • angry and uncontrollable outbursts
  • feeling alone or helpless (or both)
  • feelings of guilt, sadness, and/or worry
  • feelings that the event is happening again, more commonly referred to as “flashbacks”
  • recurring nightmares about the event and difficulty sleeping

Using the Functional Capacity Argument to win your PTSD disability case

The most commonly used strategy that we use when presenting your case to a Social Security Administration adjudicator or judge is called the functional capacity argument. This strategy is oftentimes used to show the adjudicator or judge that your medical (or mental) condition has rendered you incapable of working and earning a living.

When we make a functional capacity argument, we are saying that your symptoms and medication side effects, when considered in totality, would so reduce your capacity for full time work, that you would not be a reliable employee at even the easiest, low stress job.

One of the most powerful tools that you and your Social Security Disability attorney can employ is the FCE (Functional Capacity Evaluation) form or checklist. Your attorney will prepare and develop this checklist pursuant to your disability claim so that your physician or specialist who has been treating your case can fill the form out. This checklist, when completed by the medical professional will help the SSA decision maker understand how your symptoms or medication side effects impact work or work-like activities.  This focus on work activities is key because Social Security defines disability in terms of your inability to perform simple, entry-level work.