“Past Relevant Work:” What Does it Mean?



A few weeks ago, we posted an article about the 5 main obstacles you may encounter during the disability claims process. The fourth obstacle we identified was “work ability.” It sounds simple enough, but there are many different branches on the “work ability” tree. One of the most troublesome is Social Security’s requirement that you disclose “past relevant work.” In order to win your case, you must prove that you can no longer perform any of the work you’ve done in the past 15 years.

Identifying all of the types of work that you’ve done in the past may take time, but accurate details win cases. A thorough record of your past relevant work can help you get benefits.

What Counts as “Past Relevant Work?”

The SSA will attempt to discover if you can still do the lightest job you’ve had in 15 years. They will ask about the fine details of your work experience.

The SSA places jobs into categories like heavy, medium, light, and sedentary (jobs where you spend lots of time sitting down). If your doctor says during your case that you can perform sedentary or light work, and you have had a sedentary or light job in the past 15 years, your claim may be denied. A disability lawyer can help you prove your side of the story.

The mere fact that you had a job is not the only thing the SSA considers. The particular demands of a job and the particular limitations your disability places on you are important. As we mentioned before, accurate details win cases. We can help you find and use the details that will win yours.

Should I Hide Details That Could Hurt My Case?

No! Exaggerating or manipulating the “relevant past work” section of your case is a lethal mistake. Either your work ability will be misrepresented or the SSA will conclude that you are being dishonest. In both situations, your case will be in serious jeopardy.

Past work experience does not disqualify you from benefits. It is simply an obstacle that needs to be dealt with wisely and honestly. The SSA will even help you go back to work after getting benefits, if you want to.

At Summit Disability Law Group, we have experience helping people clear the necessary obstacles to build a strong disability claim. Contact us today for answers to your questions.


Photo courtesy of skeeze and Pixabay. The image is free for commercial use.