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Can I Get Social Security Disability if I Used to Work as a Receptionist?

Disability Benefits for Receptionists

Receptionists’ responsibilities vary considerably from one business to the next, but generally include duties such as answering telephones and greeting visitors or clients. Additionally, receptionists often handle clerical duties within an office. Most receptionist positions require proficiency with a computer and current office programs such as Excel and Microsoft Word as well as the ability to use other office machinery such as fax machines and copiers.

Over 1.1 million people in the United States are currently employed as receptionists. That number is expected to rise another 200,000 over the next ten years. Part of the reason the job growth rate is expected to remain strong for receptionists is that many receptionist jobs are used as gateway positions for people who intend to eventually further their careers in an organization, moving on to other service-oriented or administrative positions.

Most receptionist positions are considered sedentary work, though the requirements of some positions may qualify them as light or even moderate physical work, depending on how much (and how heavy) occasional lifting is involved. Receptionists are typically seated for the majority of their work hours.

In addition to being able to sit in one place for several hours at a time, a receptionist must be able to be attentive and courteous to visitors and clientele. He or she must be able to interact in a professional manner with a wide variety of people, and must be able to appropriately deal with the everyday stress of working in an office environment.

In addition to debilitating illnesses which qualify anyone for Social Security Disability benefits, receptionists often qualify for Social Security Disability benefits because of injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome which cause many of the clerical duties such as typing and letter sorting to be excruciatingly painful. Others receive benefits due to mental and emotional conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Working with a Disability as a Receptionist

If you are a receptionist who has suffered and injury or an illness which makes it impossible for you to return to work full time, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. As with other jobs, you will need to prove that you are no longer able to work because of a medically verifiable condition. Because receptionist positions are generally considered sedentary, you will need to prove that you are no longer capable of sedentary work. In general, this means demonstrating that you cannot sit and concentrate on your work for hours at a time because of a physical or mental condition which can be verified and is expected to last at least a year.

Mental conditions which cause it to be impossible to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time or to interact with the public or coworkers appropriately may also qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits, provided that you have not recently (in the last 15 years) performed any other type of work which is available and for which you continue to be capable.

Filing for Disability as a Receptionist

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you need to be prepared to wait things out while your claim makes its way through the Social Security Administration’s claims process. In most cases, this takes at least a few months. In some cases, it takes considerably longer. Most applications are turned down initially, but you have the right to appeal the SSA’s decision if you disagree with the ruling.

In most cases, it is worth the effort to go through the appeals process, as many Social Security Disability cases are eventually approved. There are several stages to the appeals process, and you stand the chance of having your Social Security Disability claim accepted at any of them. Your best chance of having your Social Security Disability claim accepted is during your hearing before an administrative law judge, as this is your one chance to speak face to face with a representative of the SSA who has the authority to weigh all factors which affect your disability case.

Most people would be well advised to seek the advice and help of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney when filing for disability benefits such as SSDI and SSI. Hiring an SSI attorney won’t cost you anything unless your claim is approved, and even then he will only collect a portion of your back pay.

It can be even more important for receptionists to have adequate legal representation when applying for disability benefits than those in other occupations. This is, in large part, due to the sedentary nature of the job and the stringent definition the SSA uses for disability.

In order to qualify for disability benefits, you and your Social Security Disability lawyer must show that you are completely incapable of continuing to perform as a receptionist. You must also show that you can’t perform any other kind of work you have done in the past on any kind of a meaningful level.