How does Social Security Disability get Information about your past work?

How does the social security administration get information about your past work? Surprisingly, social security does not draw information about your past jobs from any other government agency, or even from your former employers (though employers are occasionally contacted to obtain additional information, if needed, though this is somewhat rare).

In nearly all cases, the disability examiner who processes the claim will rely entirely on the information provided by the claimant at the time of filing the disability application. This includes job titles, dates worked, and the duties of each job.

The disability examiner will use the work history information provided by the disability claimant to identify each job in a resource known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles. The Dot information provides descriptions of job duties as well as the physical and mental requirements of jobs. Accurately matching the claimant's jobs, as they were listed on the disability application, to the jobs listed in the DOT is extremely important.

For example, if a disability examiner incorrectly identified a person's truck driving job as "driver, light truck" (a light duty job) when in actuality the person was employed as a tractor-trailer-truck driver (a medium duty job), it could affect the decision for the disability application.

Obviously, getting an accurate description of the work history is vital since SSD and SSI decisions involve vocational information as well as medical record information. However, the social security administration and the disability examiners who work on claims are entirely dependent on claimants to supply detailed and accurate information about their work history, just as they are dependent on claimants to supply solid information about their history of medical treatment.

As a disability examiner, I routinely received new cases in which claimants had devoted very little time to providing a description of their former jobs. In some cases, they even failed to provide accurate and discernable job titles. Without question, when this happens it makes it more difficult for a disability case to be evaluated properly and, as a consequence, more difficult for the case to be approved.

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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