Painters apply finishing coatings on exterior and interior walls, such as paint, varnish, and stain. Some painters specialize in industrial painting, which involves coating industrial buildings and structures. Others specialize in painting bridges, ships, or any number of other structures which need to be coated for decorative and/or protective purposes.
Nearly half of all painters are self employed and most work fewer than 40 hours per week. Most painters learn their skills on the job from other painters, though some do receive some semi-formal training at a trade school. Over 440,000 individuals make their living by painting in the United States, and that number is expected to experience moderate (7%) growth over the course of the next ten years.
Painters face a number of occupational hazards every day when they show up to work. In the first place, many of the materials painters use can be hazardous if there is inadequate ventilation or breathing protection isn’t used. Additionally, painters often have to remove substances like lead paint, drywall dust or asbestos which can cause a number of debilitating conditions.
Painters also face potential injuries due to the heights at which they often work. Some experience repetitive motion type injuries because of having their arms constantly raised and extended. Painters sometimes perform their jobs strapped into abnormal positions at high altitudes.
Common disabilities among painters include any injuries which make it difficult to stand or to remain in odd positions for hours at a time, as well as any injuries which make the repetitive motions necessary for painting to be difficult or impossible. Debilitating injuries often occur as a result of falling from high ladders, scaffolding, or other structures.
Working with a Disability as a Painter
Most painting jobs are considered light to moderate physical work by the Social Security Administration. If you are a painter who is no longer capable of full-time physical work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
To demonstrate that you are no longer capable of working as a painter, your medical documentation should clearly indicate that you are incapable of standing for long periods of time or that you are incapable of the lifting, climbing, bending, or other physical movement which is typically required of painters. Because the physical demands on painters are fairly stringent, it is actually somewhat easier to show that you are incapable of continuing to paint than showing that you are incapable of other forms of physical work. By and large, painters are significantly more prone to disabling injuries than other tradesmen.
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you also need to show that you can no longer perform other work which you have experience with or work for which you are qualified. Generally speaking, the Social Security Administration will take into account your age and education, as well as any other work you have performed during the past 15 years to determine whether you can reasonably be expected to accept or be trained for other available work.
Filing for Disability as a Painter
As with any other type of career, painters who suspect they may have a disability that will last a year or more should immediately contact the Social Security Administration to make their intent to file for Social Security Disability benefits known. Establishing an early protective filing date with the SSA can affect the amount of back pay you will be entitled to when your Social Security Disability claim is approved.
The next thing most disabled painters should do is contact a Social Security Disability SSI lawyer. Your Social Security Disability attorney will know how to paint a picture of your disability in the way that’s most likely to get your claim through the rigorous standards of the SSA’s examiners.
It’s not unusual for an initial claim to be denied (and it’s almost sure to be denied if the claim wasn’t put together by someone who is knowledgeable about the Social Security Disability application process), but you do have the right to appeal the SSA’s decision. There are several tiered steps to the appeals process, and finding the right disability lawyer can go a long way towards making the process smoother, faster, and more likely to end in an approved claim.
If you’ve injured your back by falling off scaffolding, the last thing you need is for a pencil pusher at the Social Security Administration telling you that you’re still capable of performing other physical work which you’ve never trained for and don’t know how to do. What you need is an advocate who will fight for you and who knows how to help you fill out your Social Security Disability claim so that the adjudicators will approve it sooner rather than later.