When Social Security determines if someone is disabled, one of the first issues is when the applicant no longer participated in "substantial gainful activity." In other words, when did you stop working on a regular basis? Social Security will usually figure this out by looking at your official earnings records, which is included as an exhibit in your file at hearing. Sometimes, your records may show earnings after the date that you stopped working because of payment of sick benefits or other severance payments. It is important to look at your file to compare the date you left work with Social Security's earnings records.
Work history is also important in terms of the quality of work you performed. If Social Security determines that you have a "severe impairment," it then must determine how much the impairment limits your ability to perform work activity. This is known as "residual functional capacity." Once the Social Security Administration determines your residual functional abilities, it will determine whether you can do any of your past work. This is why it is important to provide an accurate description of the physical and mental requirements of your prior jobs.
We have seen cases decided on the description of our client's past work. When a Judge decides whether our client can perform any of her past work, the Judge will ask a vocational expert for a list of the physical and mental requirements of the job. Sometimes, our client performed the job at a more strenuous level them what the job normally required. This could mean the difference between obtaining benefits or not.
If you have a denied Social Security disability claim, we will review your claims file to see whether not your prior work was properly considered in determining whether you're eligible for benefits. Call us at 503-325-8600. We can review your file, and let you know where you stand with your claim.