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What is Past Relevant Work: Why is it Important in a Social Security Disability Hearing?

When an individual files for Social Security Disability benefits it is likely they have either stopped working or have been unable to work full-time due to their conditions. However, even though an individual may no longer be working, their past work is still an important consideration. In fact, determining past work is extremely important both prior to a Social Security Disability hearing as well as at the hearing. Prior to the hearing, an individual will have to fill out forms often times called “work history reports.” These forms will require the individual to fill out all jobs they have done in the past fifteen years. These forms also require other specific information such as the employer name, hours worked per week, hourly wage or salary amount, and physical requirements of the job. It is crucial for an individual to be as detailed as they can when filling out these forms. It is crucial because the judge will have looked at these forms prior to the hearing and/or refer to these forms at the hearing. At the hearing the judge will also ask the individual several questions regarding any past work. The judge will likely confirm whether a specific jobs were full-time or part-time. The judge will also ask how long the individual was employed at that job, their job title, their job duties, how many hours out of the day they performed the job standing versus sitting, and how much they had to lift at that job. At the end of the hearing, the judge will then ask the vocational expert to list all past relevant work. The judge will pose several hypothetical questions to the vocational expert to basically see whether the individual could perform any of their past relevant work based on their disabling conditions and/or specific physical (or mental) limitations they have based on their disability. Overall, past relevant work is an extremely important piece to any social security disability claim and therefore it important to be accurate and specific when answering these questions prior to and during the hearing.

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