Past Relevant Work

Video Transcription:

Hi, my name is Andrew Kinney.  I’m an attorney at Hoglund Law offices.  I practice Social Security Disability Law.  Today I wanted to talk about past relevant work.

It’s a phrase that Social Security uses a lot. It means the work you used to do within the last 15 years.  Why is past relevant work important to your case?  Well, when social security makes decisions about disability insurance and supplemental security income they go through a process.  They decide first if someone is currently working, it’s called SJ issues.  Then they look to what medical problems affect work in a basic way.  It’s called a severities step. The third step is deciding if the individual meets or equals any sort of definition or listing of disability.  The fourth step finally is can you return to you past relevant work; what you used to do?  And they have definitions of what you used to do exactly as opposed to what you used to do in the general category.  There is another step after that as to your ability to perform other work.  But in terms of performing past relevant work social security evaluates your past relevant work in every single case.

Now the essence of past relevant work is you probably know you can’t return to your past work if you’re applying for benefits, the medical standard is can you work full time at either your past work or other work.  That generally applies to most people depending on age.  So practically speaking, most people who are considering disability or have applied for social security disability benefits don’t think they can return to their past relevant work.

Now here’s the crux of the problem. Social Security, at least when you’re under 50, now will consider if you can return to not just what you used to do perhaps a specialist in something, skilled craftsman, maybe a lawyer. Social security will look not to whether you can return to that job let’s say you had a stroke and can’t concentrate too well they’ll consider that people under 50 whether they can return to other work as well.  So you can benefit greatly from having some legal advice as to whether you should apply or if you have applied how do I meet my definition of disability because if the only thing you can’t do is your past work you can probably perform some other part time work in some other capacity.   Your attorney is going to need to make arguments that you are by definition disabled.  You are by definition disabled if you meet certain criteria.  And again I’ll mention stroke but it can be any matter of health problems.  A lot of the health problems are listed under our disability library at

The other instance where past relevant work actually is very important though is if you are over 50 or within 6 months of age 50.  And this can happen after you apply or can happen after you have your pending appeal.  In that case social security looks to see if you have physical restrictions first.  If physically you’re limited to sit down work or sedentary work.  And the definition of sedentary is within social security’s regulations.  As absorbed to the dictionary of occupational title.  Social Security looks to see if you can’t return to your past work and you’re limited to sit down work, if you’re over 50, and you don’t have skills that could shift into other sort of sedentary work you can be what’s called gridded out.  There are some guidelines that social security uses for people over 50 and that’s again an instance where past relevant work is crucial.

If you have questions about past relevant work please feel free, if you don’t already have an attorney call our office at 1-800-850-7867 you can also go on our website at  Hopefully this information can help you.  If we can actually represent you that’s wonderful.  But keep in mind that these concepts are specific to Social Security so getting to know them is very important.  Thank you.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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