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Can I Get Social Security Disability if I Used to Work as a Short Order Cook?

Disability Benefits for Short Order Cooks

Short order cooks work at restaurants preparing meals which are fairly quick and simple. They may work at an upscale restaurant as line cooks under the chefs or they may work at diners, cafes, or other restaurants cooking and preparing short order meals.

Over 166,000 people in the United States are currently employed as short order cooks. These numbers are expected to rise slightly over the next ten years. Job opportunities as a short order cook are expected to continue to be available, as this profession typically has a high turn over rate. This is in part because most short order cook jobs are low paying and offer few if any fringe benefits. For most people, the job is considered a stepping stone to other careers, either inside or outside of the restaurant and food services industry.

There are numerous hazards inherent to being a short order cook. For starters, short order cooks risk food borne illnesses and diseases from working with raw foodstuff. Additionally, short order cooks face the danger of injury from using sharp knives and other kitchen implements. Shot order cooks may also develop mental disorders as a result of working under high pressure conditions.

Short order cooks must be able to stand on their feet, often for their entire shift. They must also have good use of their fine motor skills and manual dexterity to perform many of the food preparation tasks which are part of the job. Additionally, they must be able to follow instructions and mentally keep track of many things at the same time. The nature of what they do, especially during rush periods, requires that they be able to multi-task.

Any disability which affects a short order cook’s ability to remember instructions, keep mental track of multiple things, stand, or use their hands can have a significant impact on a short order cook’s ability to continue working.

Generally speaking, short order cooking is considered light to moderate physical work by the Social Security Administration, as it requires regular lifting of light objects such as spatulas and fry vat baskets, and occasional lifting of heavier objects.

Working with a Disability as a Short Order Cook

If you are a short order cook and can no longer perform your job full tie due to an illness or injury, you might qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration like SSDI and SSI. As with other professions, cooks must prove that they are no longer able to continue performing any meaningful work, either in the cooking job they held most recently, or in any other kind of employment which they have held during the past 15 years. Younger people with disabilities (typically under 55) may also need to show that they cannot reasonably be expected to train for other employment which may be available to a person of their age and educational attainment.

Proving that you are no longer physically capable of cooking for a living is generally a matter of proving that you are no longer capable of standing for long periods of time, and many of the cooks who have been approved for Social Security Disability have been approved because of chronic back pain or knee injuries which make it excruciatingly difficult to stand for the duration of a kitchen shift.

Many cooks also win disability because of conditions which cause a loss of fine motor skills, such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Occasionally, a cook is approved for Social Security Disability benefits because of a mental condition which either causes him to lose the ability to concentrate and focus or makes it impossible for him to work in the high pressure environment of a restaurant kitchen.

Applying for Disability as a Short Order Cook

The Social Security Disability claims and appeals process can be quite daunting. In a best case scenario, most claimants will need to wait two to three months to start receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The majorities of claimants are initially turned down for benefits, and face the prospect of an arduous fight with the Social Security Administration’s appeals process.

You shouldn’t go through all that alone. You are entitled to the representation of a Social Security Disability lawyer at all stages of the claims and appeals process. The sooner you turn your case over to an experienced Social Security Disability SSI attorney, the easier you’ll rest, and the better your chances are of being approved.

Don’t be like so many disabled cooks who accepted no for an answer just because a desk jockey at the Social Security Administration looked their paperwork over for five minutes and decided they should be able to retrain for some completely different kind of work. If you’re unable to cook because of a back injury, other injury, or chronic illness, take your case to a Social Security Disability lawyer who will fight for you.