Problems with concentration, persistence, and pace that affect an individual’s ability to work may be grounds for a disability claim. When considering whether or not to approve disability claims from workers with mental impairments, the Social Security Administration looks at concentration, persistence and pace and how they impact applicants’ ability to work. These factors are sometimes hard to understand, as they are not as easily defined as physical disabilities. Understanding the impact of concentration, persistence, and pace on disability claims will help those with mental impairments make more effective disability claims.

Defining Concentration, Persistence, and Pace

According to the Social Security Administration, concentration, persistence, and pace refer to the ability to maintain attention long enough to do the tasks commonly found in a work setting in a timely manner. An individual needs to be able to focus on a task at hand sufficiently to perform regular work routines.

How Are Concentration, Persistence, and Pace Problems Diagnosed?

For Social Security Disability Insurance, only a psychiatrist can diagnose mental impairments that affect concentration, persistence, and pace. A primary care physician is not sufficient to provide the formal diagnosis under current administration regulations. If a primary care physician treated a patient for mental impairments, those records can help substantiate the claim of impairment. They cannot be used as a primary diagnosis or evidence of a mental disorder. The patient filing for disability insurance will need a Psychological Consultative Examination from a psychiatrist.

At the examination, the psychiatrist will specifically look at concentration, persistence, and pace. The psychiatrist will evaluate how the patient’s overall concentration would affect workability. Some of the types of tasks may include asking the individual to subtract from 100 by a set number or tests of short-term memory. Work-related tasks, like locating phone numbers or filing index cards, are also good markers of problems in this area.

Workers with significant impairment in concentration, persistence, and pace may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance. The testing and diagnosis must show impairment significant enough to fully prevent the patient from working. Sometimes a social security disability attorney’s help will ensure that the evidence is presented in a convincing manner at the disability hearing, so the claim is approved.