A critical question in assessing your disability is how much you can lift and carry, both on a “frequent” basis (2/3rds of the workday) and on an “occasional” basis (1/3rd of the workday). We men often have trouble with that question. I call it the “John Wayne” syndrome. If you are younger, maybe you can think of it as the “Vin Diesel” Syndrome. Either way, I think you can anticipate what I mean, as well as understand part of the reason why men tend to overestimate what they can do physically: we want to look masculine in front of others. But I think there is also a more subtle dynamic.

I am approaching my mid-50s, and I just recently starting some weight lifting. I would call it “light weights” not because that is my choice, but because that is all I can do. If you had asked me, before I started lifting, what I could lift I would have greatly overestimated, not because I am full of myself, but because my memory of what I can lift is from when I was a much younger man.

Usually disabled men have been relatively inactive due to their health since they last worked. By the time of the ALJ hearing, that could be several years. So when I prepare my Dallas clients for their hearing by asking the all-important “how-much-can-you-lift” question, and get what I know to be a ridiculously answer like “50 pounds”, I always ask: “When was the last time you lifted 50 pounds?” Invariably I get a blank look, with an answer like “I can’t remember…”.

Never say you can lift a given amount if you have not done it in years!