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

What does Social Security Disability Need to Know about your Work History and Jobs?

When a disability adjudicator (the decision maker on your social security disability or SSI claim - at the lower levels, this would be a disability examiner and at the hearing level this would be an administrative law judge) reviews a disability case, they need to determine several key aspects regarding the claim.

1. What is the claimant presently capable of doing?

2. What did the claimant's past work require them to do?

3. Does the claimant have skills, training, and education that would allow to do work other than what they previously did?

Regarding the first item, what the claimant is capable of doing is known as their residual functional capacity, or RFC. This is basically a rating that is assigned to a case. Examples of ratings are A) less than sedentary, B) Sedentary, C) Light, D) Medium, and E) Heavy.

These ratings essentially categorize the claimant in terms of what kind of activity they are currently able to engage in, based on the information contained in their medical records. For example, a person who has a medium RFC rating would be considered to have the ability to lift 50 pound occasionally and 25 pounds frequently during the course of a normal work day. A person who has a light RFC rating would be considered to have the ability to lift 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally during the course of a normal work day.

The ability to lift, of course, is not the only factor that determines what type of rating a person will be given by a disability examiner or judge. Practically every single human capability is taken into consideration when a rating is determined and given to a claimant. For instance, the ability to stoop, crouch, grasp, employ dexterous hand movements, see, hear, smell, reach overhead, tolerate heights (back problems and vertigo, for example, would interfere with this), feel, etc, etc.

In addition to physical capabilities, mental capabilities are also rated if the claimant is filing a disability claim on the basis of a mental impairment, or if it is learned during the evaluation of the claim that the claimant has at least one mental impairment that may be cognitive or psychiatric in nature.

An MRFC rating (mental residual functional capacity) would give consideration to the individual's ability to sustain attention and concentration while on the job, to persist in tasks, to learn new information, to recall and use previously learned information, to be able to adhere to a defined work schedule, to interact appropriately with other co-workers and supervisors (and perhaps clients or customers), and to be able to operate in a work setting without the need for special supervision.

Regarding the second item (what did the claimant' past work require of them?), this is the purpose of gathering full and detailed information from the claimant regarding their past work history. The disability examiner will need to properly identify each job from the claimant's relevant work history. This means potentially each job that was performed by the claimant in the fifteen year period prior to their filing for disability.

We say "potentially" because for the job to be relevant it must also be A) one in which the claimant had sufficient time to learn the skills of the job (so, in most cases, a job that was quit afer one week would not be considered relevant) and B) one in which the claimant was able to earn a livable wage while doing the job (known to the social security administration as SGA, or substantial gainful activity).

Continued at: Will Social Security Decide That I can go Back to My Old Job?

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

Related pages:

Strengthening your disability case by providing the details of your work history
What does Social Security Disability Need to Know about your Work History and Jobs?
You Must Give Social Security Disability Your Work History When You Apply
Will Social Security Decide That I can go Back to My Old Job?
What does social security mean by past work?
What does social security mean by other work?
For Social Security Disability and SSI, What Does It Mean When A person Can Only Do Sedentary Work?
How does Social Security Disability Decide if you can Work or Not?
Not enough accumulated quarters for disability, what do I do?
Social Security Disability review question about part-time work

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