How does Social Security Disability use your Work History?
When it comes to social security disability and SSI cases, it's fairly common for claimants and potential claimants (those who have not yet filed for disability, but are considering doing so) to center their concerns around the issue of medical records. After all, as I've said many times, the decision on an SSD case or SSI case will inevitably boils down to what's in the medical records, including a claimant's treatment notes, admission and discharge summaries, lab reports, imaging studies (xrays, CT scans, and MRI scans), and any statements provided by a claimant's treating physican.
However, as important as the issue of medical records may be (for instance, what the records do and do not say, how recent they are, how far back they go, and whether or not they have all been listed on a disability application or disability appeal), medical record documentation is not the only factor in determining a disability case.
The decision on a social security disability claim or SSI disability case is a medical one, but it is also a vocational one.
Remember, the social security administration approves and denies claims based on whether or not a claimant can work. For practical purposes, this means analyzing whether or not a claimant can return to their past work, which potentially includes any job they have performed within the last 15 years and whether or not a claimant can perform some type of "other work" for which they are vocationally suited based on their age, education, skills, and rated mental or physical limitations.
So, how does social security use your work history? It all starts with whatever information a claimant submits when they file for disability. The jobs listed at the time of application will be looked up and identified by a disability examiner who will determine whether or not a claimant is still capable of performing these jobs. For example if a claimant worked as a tractor-trailer-truck driver (to make this an easy example, we will assume that the claimant worked only as a truck driver during the last 15 years) and his current physical condition limits him to light work, he will be judged unable to return to this past work. This is because the job of tractor-trailer-truck driver is rated as a medium exertion job.
What happens next in the process if a claimant is judged to be unable to return to their past work? The next step is to consider whether or not they can perform some type of other work.
The following pages discuss other work:
Social Security Disability and Proving you Can't Work - other work
Social Security Disability Requirements and Eligibility
Social Security Disability Residual Functional Capacity Form
Steps to Win Social Security Disability
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog