Will the disability examiner call my former employer about the type of work I did?

How does Social Security classify or categorize the work I did in my past jobs?

They actually use a 3 inch thick reference book to look up job titles and try to make a match with what you've described as your job with what they find in the book (the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles). Unfortunately, the book is very very very outdated (yet they continue to use it).

There are probably instances where a DDS examiner might contact a supervisor to find out what was involved on a job, but that rarely ever happens. Disability examiners sometimes receive 3-5 new cases to work on PER DAY. They usually just try to match the information provided by the claimant with whatever the can find in the DOT manual which does not make the process very accurate.

Honestly, this probably as good as the process will ever get unless the DOT book ever gets updated and that would be massive undertaking. But this is exactly why I continually advise people to provide very detailed descriptions of their past jobs for the last 15 years (this is the relevant period as far as SSA is concerned). Because it can actually make a difference in the determination of a disability case.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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