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How Will Work History Affect a Social Security Disability Application?

 Posted on December 20, 2021 in Social Security Disability

shutterstock_1937889325-1-min.jpgWhen a person suffers from disabilities that are severe enough to limit their ability to maintain employment, they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can be crucial, ensuring that a person will have the financial resources to provide for their needs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits based on the income a person earned in the past. To qualify for SSDI, a person will need to meet a variety of criteria, and Social Security will look at the severity of their health condition and whether they are able to continue working. During this process, one issue that is considered is whether a person can do work they have performed in the past. By understanding how Social Security defines “past relevant work,” an applicant can be prepared to answer questions about their status, their ability to work, and their need for disability benefits.

Determining the Relevance of Past Work

During the five-step evaluation process used by Social Security, step number four looks at whether an applicant can do work that they had performed in the past. At this point, Social Security will examine a person’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), or their ability to perform different work-related tasks that fit within the limitations of their health conditions. RFC will be used to determine whether work the person had done in previous jobs will fit within their current limitations. However, only “past relevant work” will be considered. To be relevant, work must meet criteria for:

  • Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) - A person must have been able to earn enough money while working to sufficiently support themselves. Social Security adjusts the amount of monthly income that is considered SGA on an annual basis. By looking at the amount of income a person earned while working a past job, Social Security will determine whether it was equal to or greater than the SGA level at that time. Part-time jobs, volunteer positions, or other work for which a person earned a low income may not be considered during this step of the evaluation process.

  • Recency - Since gradual changes occur in the economy of the United States, work that a person had done in the past may no longer be an indicator of the types of work that are currently available. Past work is only relevant if it occurred within 15 years before the date that Social Security makes a determination about eligibility for disability benefits. For example, if a person applies for SSDI in 2021, and the “date of adjudication” when their case will be decided is in 2022, work they performed prior to 2007 will not be considered relevant.

  • Duration - A person must have worked in a job long enough to gain the skill and experience required to maintain average job performance. Since jobs can vary in complexity, the duration needed for work to be considered relevant will change depending on the type of work performed. To determine whether a previous job is relevant to a person’s current ability to work, Social Security may consider whether an applicant worked in the job long enough to learn the proper techniques and absorb the necessary information that would allow them to complete work correctly.

Contact Our Dallas County SSDI Application Attorneys

At The Law Offices of Coats & Todd, we can make sure the proper factors are considered during the Social Security disability application process, including whether your previous jobs will affect your qualifications for benefits. We can advocate on your behalf to ensure that you receive the benefits you need. Contact our Plano Social Security disability benefits lawyers at 972-671-9922 to set up your free case evaluation.




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