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Working and Disability

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SSDRC Disability Blog

What Does Social Security Disability and SSI Include As Your Past Work?

The Social Security definition of past relevant work is any work that you have done in the past fifteen years that was performed at the SGA, or substantial gainful activity level, that you worked at for at least three months, and during which you had time to learn the job. When making their disability decision, Social Security can include as past relevant work any job that satisfies this criteria and which lasted three months or more.

When a disability examiner determines whether or not you are able to perform any of your past relevant work, they generally ask you to complete a detailed work history that includes all the job requirements for the job as you performed them. Disability examiners may use in-house vocational experts or other resources such as the “Dictionary of Occupational Titles” published by the Department of Labor to provide vocational input and evidence for your case.

Vocational evidence may help the disability examiner evaluate the accuracy of your description of your past work. Keep in mind that disability examiners are going to try to make their decision based upon the job as it is performed in the national economy; however an administrative law judge may give more weight to your description of your job.

Sometimes, vocational evidence helps an individual win their disability benefits and sometimes it does not. If you are asked to describe your past work, you should describe it as you performed it. Be sure to give complete and thorough answers to questions about the mental and physical requirements and your ability to perform them. It may mean the difference between being approved or denied disability benefits.

If you are found capable of working a past job, your disability claim will be denied. If the disability examiner is able to determine that you are not able to perform any past work, they have to determine if you are able to do any other kind of work when you consider the limitations of your disablings conditions, your education, the transferability of your job skills, and your age. If they find that you cannot do any other type of work you may be eligible for disability benefits. The jobs included in your past work and your ability to perform the demands the work are integral to the disability determinations process.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How does Social Security Disability get Information about your past work?
What Does Social Security Disability and SSI Include As Your Past Work?
What does social security mean by past work?
Can Social Security Turn You Down If You Can Do Your Past Work?
Social Security Disability, children dependent benefits, and Marital Status

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria