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

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

Properly identifying the claimant's past jobs will depend entirely on how accurate the information is that has been gathered from the claimant. This includes the job title, duties of the job, and the dates each job was held. Why is proper identification so important? Because relevant past job that was held by the claimant will have a rating assigned to it. For example, a job may be considered to be sedentary (such as a dispatcher), or light (such as a sales clerk) or medium (such as a large commercial truck driver).

The rating of the job will allow the disability examiner (or the disability judge) to determine if the claimant can go back to one of their old jobs. For example, a person whose medical evidence allows the adjudicator to determine that they have a light RFC rating could not be expected to return to a former job if that job was rated for medium exertion.

By the same token, however, a person with a light RFC rating might be expected to be able to return to a former job if the job was rated for light or sendentary exertion.

Regarding the third item (skills, education, and training that might allow the claimant to do some type of other work), this is where approximately half of all disability claims are denied.

To receive SSD or SSI disability benefits from the social security administration, it is not enough that an individual is no longer capable of doing their past work. To qualify for disability benefits, the claimant's condition must be severe enough that they are incapable of transitioning to other work for which their training, education, and job skills might ordinarily allow them.

Of course, to determine whether or not a claimant will be able to do some type of other work that they have never done, the disability examiner will need to know what the claimant's work skill levels are.

And this is yet another reason why it is so very important that anyone who files for Social Security Disability or SSI should supply detailed information regarding their work history, including accurate job titles and accurate descriptions as to the duties of each job. The disability examiner will match this information to a specific job listed in a publication known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles (published by the Department of Labor).

An accurate job description provided by the claimant will lead to an accurate job identification by the disability examiner. False matchups can have the effect of leading the examiner to conclude that the claimant has more job training or higher work skills than they do, and this can lead to a denial (based on the assumption that the claimant can easily do some type of other work).

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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