Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Does Your Last Job Determine If You Receive A Social Security or SSI Award?

Your last job does not, in itself, determine if you receive a Social Security or SSI disability award. Social Security uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to make their disability determinations. The last two steps of this process involve an evaluation of your ability to perform work activity or jobs.

Step four considers whether or not you can return to your past work, and step five considers whether or not you can perform some type of other work that utilizes your combination of education and work skills, as well as other vocaational factors such as your age and the physical and mental limitations that you are believed to possess as a result of your condition or conditions (this assessment is made by social security examiners and administrative law judges in the form of an RFC, or residual functional capacity, rating)

How Social Security decisions are different from other types of decisions

Social Security disability determinations are not like short or long disability evaluations from your employer or disability insurance company in that Social Security determinations do not just consider your last job when they make their medical disability decision. Most employer or private disability insurance companies only consider performing your last job.

Social Security considers any relevant job performed in the last fifteen years. Any job that you performed in the past fifteen years that A) you had time to learn, B) lasted three months or more, and C) in which your earnings were at an SGA level, is a relevant job. Part of the disability criteria used by SSA, of course, is determining that, if you are not able to do your last job, i.e. you might be able to do some other job.

It is important to note that at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels, where decisions are made by disability examiners, you may be denied on the basis of the ability to do other work even if that "other work" does not exist in the city or state where you live. Fortunately, at the social security hearing level, judges often bring in vocational experts to more precisely identify other work prospects by analyzing how many suitable "other work" jobs might exist in the economy, and whether or not you could actually obtain one based on the part of the country in which you live.

Disability examiners consider your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do despite the limitations of your impairment) when they evaluate all of your past jobs. They may find you are not able to do any of your past jobs, however that still does not necessarily determine if you will receive Social Security or SSI disability.

The past work evaluation is the fourth step in the five step sequential evaluation process. If the disability examiner is able to rule out all of your past jobs they still must evaluate the possibility, as we've said, that you are able to some other kind of work. The final determining factor of the disability evaluation process is an evaluation of your ability to perform any other kind of job.

Your inability to perform any other kind of work (considering your age, education, job skills, and residual functional capacity) determines if you receive Social Security or SSI disability.

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

Related pages:

How far back are Social Security disability benefits awarded on an appeal?
How long will it take to start getting disability benefits after an award notice?
Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
The SSI Award Letter from Social Security
The Social Security Award Notice after Disability Benefits are Awarded
When Do You Get A Social Security Disability Award Letter And What Does It Say?
The Social Security Disability Five Month Waiting Period
Check Amount on Social Security Disability Award Letter
What conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?
You Cannot get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award if you don't Provide SSA what they need
How Much Do You Get For Disability If You Are Awarded Benefits?
Does Your Last Job Determine If You Receive A Social Security or SSI Award?
Can Social Security Disability Benefits Be Awarded Quickly?
The Social Security disability award notice process in North Carolina
How is Social Security Disability and SSI Awarded?

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