Significance of Daily Activities, Including Work Attempts
The individual's level of functioning may vary considerably over a period of time.
The level of functioning at any specific point in time may seem relatively efficient
or may be very poor. Proper evaluation of the impairment requires the adjudicator
to take these variations into account in determining the severity of the individual's
impairment over time. Thus, it is vital to obtain the necessary medical evidence from
treating sources and to obtain information about the activities of daily living over
a sufficiently long period of time prior to the date of adjudication to establish
the individual's baseline level of function. Even clinic records with brief entries
are often valuable, when combined with other evidence, in determining a baseline level
of function. Mere participation in an activity does not, of itself, reflect upon the
degree of impairment of severity. This can only be measured by considering the quality,
independence, frequency and appropriateness of the activities. More specifically,
the information that an individual watches television, attends occupational therapy,
or participates in planned recreational activities cannot represent the basis for
determining that the individual retains the capacity to do basic work-related activities.
The adjudicator must determine to what extent the individual decides to carry out
or participate in these activities, instead of being placed in a position in front
of the television set or led onto a bus with a group, and determine to what extent
the individual understands what is going on in connection with these activities and
can make the decision to participate.
Some individuals may have attempted to work or may actually have worked, during a
period of time relevant to the current determination of disability. This may have
been an independent attempt at work or may have been in connection with a community
health or other sheltered program. These work efforts will typically have been of
short duration. The information concerning the individual's behavior during the attempt
at work and the circumstances surrounding the termination of the work effort may be
particularly informative as to the individual's ability or inability to function in
a work setting.
With this kind of evidence, it is then important to resolve whether a reported current
period of poor functioning represents a relatively short period of relapse that may
be expected to respond to therapy or situational changes, and to resolve whether a
period of satisfactory functioning represents a stable, improved remission that can
be expected to be sustained.