Through the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits, applicants will be required to complete various forms to the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are forms that ask for information about medical treatment and providers. The SSA wants this information in order to determine if the applicant is receiving treatment for disabling conditions and to obtain records from these facilities. The SSA will also ask applicants to complete a form that asks a series of questions about their symptoms and the manner in which their disability(ies) interfere with daily life. This form is intended to allow the applicant to describe in their own words the impact of their disability. Additionally, the Social Security Administration will ask you to complete a questionnaire regarding your work history.
The reason that the SSA wants to know about past work is because most disability cases hinge in part on the applicant’s ability to perform their past work. The SSA will look at work that was performed in the last 15 years at “substantial gainful activity” level. In many instances, the applicant will also need to show that they cannot perform other types of work as well. For example, if the applicant is less than 50 years of age, they will generally need to show not only that they cannot perform their past work, but that they are unable to perform any work available in the national economy on a full-time basis. Other posts in our blog series go into greater detail about what are known as the Social Security “grid rules” that incorporate one’s age, educational background, and work experience into the SSA’s decision making process.
The work history questionnaire will ask the applicant to describe each job, as well as indicate the degree of walking, standing, sitting, and handling that was required. The questionnaire also asks about the amount of weight that was lifted at the job. The questionnaire also asks whether you were a supervisor and whether you were able to hire and fire other employees. It is very important to answer these questions accurately. Some judges will not allow testimony by the applicant about past work that differs from the answers that were submitted in response to the work history report. Therefore, it is very important that you fully convey the degree of physicality as well as skill that went into your past work.