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

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 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.

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

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.

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