Saturday, February 27, 2010



Why Do I Have To Give Social Security Disability My Work History, Don’t They Have It?

Social Security's disability programs are based upon a person's inability to perform substantial work activity as a result of one or more physical or mental conditions. Of course, Social Security has a record of where you have worked and how much you have earned over the years. However, this is not a “work history” for the purposes of making a Social Security disability determination.

In order to make a medical determination for Social Security, a disability examiner needs to know what types of substantial work activity an individual has performed over the past fifteen years. One criteria of the Social Security disability program is that an individual must be unable to perform any of the relevant jobs they have done in the past due to the limitations of their disability. Even then, disability examiners must take this process to another level and determine if an individual’s disabling condition has left them with a residual functional capacity that is so restrictive as to rule out other types of jobs in the general economy.

When making a disability determination, disability examiners consider an individual’s age, educational background, work history, and residual functional capacity for those individuals who do not meet or equal an impairment listing in the Social Security disability handbook. Since the inability to engage in substantial work activity is such an important part of the Social Security disability evaluation process, disability examiners must consider an individual’s past work.

Most individuals win their disability benefits by being given a medical vocational allowance, where the determination is made that they cannot return to their past work or perform some type of other work.

Basically, there are very few disability approvals that do not involve a careful look at an individual’s work history; that is why it is imperative that you complete all requested information about your work activity. If you fail to do so, your disability claim could potentially be denied for failure to cooperate (increasingly, DDS agencies are taking a closer look at claimant's work history and a failure to return the SSA-3369, the work history report, could result in a failure-to-cooperate denial...or, at the very least, significantly disadvantage the claim).

The important concern when it comes to submitting your work history is that you supply social security with the information that is needed for the disability adjudicator to properly classify your past work.

Proper classification of your past work will allow the decision-maker to determine, based on your remaining physical and/or mental function, if you can return to one of your past jobs. If you cannot return to one of these jobs, you may be approved for disability as long as the determination is also made that you cannot transition to some form of other work.

However, determining whether or not you can perform some type of other work may be based, in part, on how your past work is classified. How so? Because the disability claim decision-maker will use your work history to gain insight into your job skill levels and the transferability of your job skills. And transferability of skills--in addition to age, education, and physical and mental functional capacity--has an impact on whether or not an individual can switch to a new type of employment.


Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog




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