How does my work experience affect my social security disability claim?

How does my work experience affect my social security disability claim?

The social security administration uses a five-step process to decide on whether someone is disabled or not.

  1. Step one refers to substantial gainful activity.
  2. Step two looks at your severe impairments.
  3. With step three, the social security administration looks at a set of listings to see if they apply to your impairments.
  4. Step four covers your past work.
  5. Step five relates to all other work.

The two main steps that relate to your work history are steps one and four. At step one, they will look at your current work activity. If you are currently working above the limit, you can be denied at step one. This limit is called substantial gainful activity. This amount goes up from time to time. In 2020, the substantial gainful activity limit is $1,260 per month for a non-blind applicant.  If you are currently working and making above $1,260 then you can be denied at step one.

At step four, social security will consider your past work experience. They will decide whether you can do your past work or work with similar type of skills.[1]  Past relevant work is defined as work that you have done within the past 15 years, that was substantial gainful activity, and that lasted long enough to learn to do it.[2]  If social security finds that you can still do your past relevant work, then you will be denied at step four. A vocational expert may be used to help determine if you can do your past relevant work. This is more common at a social security disability hearing in front of a Judge. A vocational expert may offer evidence based upon their experience, job placements, and education. The Judge will usually ask the vocational expert a series of hypothetical questions to help determine whether your limitations and impairments would rule out past relevant work or allow it to still be performed. Usually, the vocational expert will talk about how the job was performed by you and how it is generally performed in the national economy.[3]

This process can be confusing. For more information and assistance, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund & Mrozik P.L.L.C.

CFR 404.1520 (a)(iv)

CFR 404.1560

[1] CFR 404.1520 (a)(iv)

[2] CFR 404.1560

[3] Id.