When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, a state agency will evaluate your claim. In Oregon and Washington, the agency is known as Disability Determination Services, or DDS. DDS will send you a form asking about your past work. Why?
When Social Security decides whether not you are “disabled” as defined in the statute, it goes through a five-step sequence of questions. If Social Security determines that you have a severe medical problem or a combination of problems that is severe, it then decides your “residual functional capacity.” In other words, Social Security is determining what you can and cannot do in a competitive work setting.
Once Social Security determines what it thinks you can and cannot do, it then looks back at the jobs you worked for 15 years prior to the date you are claiming that your disability began to see if you can still perform those jobs with the limitations Social Security has placed upon you.
There are two important points here. First, it is important that you described in great detail the physical requirements of your job. For example, you may be a retail store manager, with lots of responsibilities that involve sitting at a desk in working on a computer. However, you may also work side-by-side with your workers, lifting boxes and stocking shelves. This is important, because if you are no longer able to do this kind of work, it puts you one step closer to getting your claim accepted.
The second point is that Social Security will decide what you can and cannot do both physically and mentally. Often, this is the most disputed issue when we go to hearing with our clients. If Social Security denies your claim because it thinks you can do some of your prior work, you need to sit down and review the claims file to see where Social Security is incorrect.
We help people seeking disability benefits all the time, so if you have a question, call us at 503-325-8600. Under the Social Security statute, we do not get paid unless we prevail on your appeal.