How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Social Security Disability, SSI, and Whether or Not a Person can Still Work

At the time of applying for disability, and often during the evaluation of the claim, the social security administration will inquire into the claimant's past work history. When this is done, SSA will be most concerned with jobs that it considers to be relevant. "Relevant" simply refers to jobs that were performed by the claimant in the fifteen year period prior to becoming disabled.

To be relevant and part of the consideration process, the job, however, must also be one in which the claimant was able to earn a substantial income and also one in which the claimant was able to learn the skills involved in doing the job (therefore, jobs worked for only a short period would not usually be considered relevant).

Once all the claimant's relevant past work is identified, the disability examiner will look up each job in a resource known as the Dictionary of Occupation Titles to learn what each job required. This would include both their physical and mental requirements. This information is then compared to the claimant's current functional limitations to see if the claimant still has the ability to return to one of their past jobs.

If the claimant's current limitations (as rated on physical and/or mental RFC forms by the disability examiner and the doctors with whom he works) are too restrictive, he will be judged to be incapable of doing his past work. However, the disability process does not end there.

Using information found in identifying the claimant's jobs in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, the disability examiner will be able to determine what job skills the claimant is expected to possess. This will allow the disability examiner to determine whether or not the claimant may have the ability to do some type of other work that they have not previously done.

Fortunately, for disability claimants, the decision that is made regarding their ability (or inability) to do some type of other work is not based solely on their work skills. It is also based on the claimant's age and how severe their condition is (reflected in their RFC assessments), as well as their level of education.

Claimants who are judged to be incapable of going back to a former job, and also incapable of switching to some type of other work will be awarded disability benefits. But it should be apparent to most claimants after reading this page that the decision on the disability application may be affected by how accurately the social security administration identifies their past jobs.

For this reason, it can be crucial for a claimant to provide accurate job titles, as well as full and detailed descriptions of the work performed on each job...to ensure that the job is properly identified in the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles.

Improper identification of past jobs can lead a disability examiner or an administrative law judge to conclude that the claimant can go back to a former job that they no longer have the ability to adequately perform, or use skills that they do not actually have to take on some new type of employment.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

SSD application for disability
Filing for disability and medical conditions that qualify
Social Security Disability application denied
Winning disability benefits, how to win
Winning disability for a mental condition
Social Security Disability Back pay, SSD, SSI
Eligible for Social Security Disability SSI
Social Security Disability For Back Condition pain in California
How much can you make in California and still apply for disability?
Disability requirements and criteria in California

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.