Why is Work History Important in Social Security Disability Cases?
When you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, one part of the assessment will be a detailed work history. This is because disability payments are awarded to those who have a severe, ongoing medical or mental problem which prevents them from performing at any past or present job, or any work for which they are suited. Therefore, your work history is extremely important in determining whether you are able to work or you should receive benefits.
The disability examiner who determines your case will measure your residual functional capacity (RFC). This assessment gives Social Security a clear picture of the activities you can and cannot perform. Then the examiner determines whether your RFC allows you to continue in your present job, return to any prior type of work you’ve done in the past 15 years, or whether you have enough job skills to perform in a different job.
This is why an extremely accurate history of your past jobs is important to your case. The examiner needs to know all of the details of your current or past jobs if he or she is going to be able to accurately determine whether you can perform that work. If, for example, a job requires you to frequently lift 50 pounds, which you cannot do because of a back injury, then that requirement for that particular job needs to be specified in your work history. A vague phrase like “occasional light lifting” may lead the examiner to believe you can perform that work. Specific terms like “50 pounds” and “frequent lifting” will give a much more accurate picture of the job’s requirements.
Along with very specific details of a job’s requirements, also be sure to list names and contact information for past supervisors. This way the examiner can discuss the job in detail with supervisors if necessary, and a get more accurate picture of the requirements necessary for performing that type of work.