Social Security Disability Resource Center
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What does social security mean by past work?
When you file an application for social security disability or SSI, the disability examiner who reviews your case uses your medical records to determine what your physical and mental capabilities are. The assessment of your current capabilities is known as your RFC rating. RFC stands for residual functional capacity.
For example, some claimants, after a review of their records, are considered to have a light RFC, meaning they are considered by the social security administration to be only capable of light exertion, or light duty, work activity (for SSA purposes, light work is work in which you would be required to lift ten pounds frequently and twenty pounds occasionally).
If you are restricted to light work, meaning that you have a light RFC rating, and your past work was medium work (meaning that your past work required the ability to lift twenty-five pounds frequently and fifty pounds occasionally), then you would not be considered capable of going back to your past work.
In such a case, the disability examiner would need to consider whether or not you are capable of doing some type of other work that you might seem logically suited for based on your age, educational level, acquired job skills and the transferrability of those skills to other jobs, and, of course, your residual functional capacity rating.
Past work is the step of the sequential evaluation process (the process used by the social security administration to decide disability claims in which the claimant has not met the approval criteria of a listing in the impairment listing manual, or blue book) where many claims are denied. But what exactly is past work?
Past work potentially includes all the jobs that you might have done in the past fifteen years. This fifteen year period is known as the relevant period. Jobs performed in this timeframe are considered in the disability claim process because it is thought that any job skills you may have acquired in such jobs might still be "relevant" to the current labor market.
However, not every job that you did in the last fifteen years would necessarily be considered by SSA. If you worked a job in the relevant period but did not do the job long enough to learn its requirements (for example, if you quit the job in the training period), or you did not work and earn what SSA refers to as a "substantial and gainful income" while you had the job, then the job will not be considered by the disability examiner when he or she evaluates your ability (or inability) to go back to an old job.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
The SSDRC Disability Blog
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
Getting disability in North Carolina
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?
Am I disabled with obesity, muscle spasms, bone spurs, and advanced arthritis in my spine?
With 100 percent Veterans Benefits, are you still eligible for disability?
How hard is it to qualify for disability?
Qualifying for Disability in South Carolina
If you apply for disability in South Carolina
Disability Lawyer in South Carolina
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.
File an application for disability under SSD or SSI
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