Here’s something all too frustrating and common at disability hearings: We gather all the medical records. There are hundreds of pages of medical records detailing my client’s mental and physical limitations.
Their testimony? Almost perfect. They explain to the judge exactly how they’re feeling and how it limits them from working.
And then we get to the jobs expert to talk about their past work. And it turns out that my client briefly had some unskilled light job 10 years ago that the Social Security Administration considers to be past relevant work. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, the judge finds the claimant could do that job and the application is denied.
In Social Security’s five step process, the fourth step is to consider whether an individual could perform any of their past work in the last 15 years either as they’ve actually performed it, or as it’s performed in the national economy.
While Social Security has long considered this to be fair, most people will tell you it simply makes no sense. Many jobs have drastically changed in the past 15 years. Even if they haven’t, it’s very difficult to find an employer to hire you for a job you haven’t performed in almost a decade. And complicating matters even further, many claimants have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to remember anything going back to 10-15 years.
Thankfully, Social Security is now proposing a rule that would limit jobs performed in the past five years to past relevant work, and if this rule change goes through, I expect that it will result in a significant increase in favorable decisions.