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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
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Applying for Disability in various states
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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
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FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
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
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
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
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Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
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How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
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