recording job history for SSDIIf you need Social Security (SS) disability benefits because you're unable to work, you may wonder why your job history is necessary when submitting a claim.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses this history to determine the requirements, tasks, and responsibilities of your old job, whether you can still perform it, and if you have skills that transfer to a new type of employment.

Understanding Your Work History

If you have a severe medical condition that prevents you from working at any job, the SSA may award disability benefits. However, many people don't understand these benefits are given only if the SSA determines you're unable to work at your current position, a past job, or any other employment for which you may have skills. Thus, it’s important to know that your work history is one of two critical components determining whether you’re awarded financial support from the SSA.

The SSA uses medical records and evidence of your disabling condition when it considers your claim. If this documentation clarifies that your medical condition isn’t serious enough to meet all the requirements listed in the SSA's Listing of Impairments—also known as the "Blue Book"— the agency uses medical records to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). This assessment evaluates the activities you can and can’t perform due to your medical condition.

Once the claims examiner and typically, a medical consultant, analyze your RFC, they decide if:

  • Your physical and mental limitations allow you to return to your current job.
  • You can perform any tasks necessary for a job you’ve had in the last 15 years.
  • You have skills that you could transfer to some other job.  

Consequently, the details of your past job are important. If the claims examiner doesn’t know the specific tasks involved in work, the necessary physical demands, or the required knowledge involved, he might believe you can perform a job you really can’t.

For example, if you were a cook, and you are longer able to lift heavy boxes of food or meat because of a back injury or hand injury, the examiner would likely find that you're unable to perform any related tasks like before your disability. So, it’s essential to include how much standing and lifting that job required, how much handling and fingering you did in the food preparation. If you describe your job as customer service did you only answer the phone or did you interact with customers at the return counter in  department store.

A Thorough History Is Crucial to Your Case

It's easy to think the fewer details provided to the SSA about your work history and the fewer jobs included in that history, the better. Then, the SSA wouldn’t have a list of prior jobs to use as possible alternative positions. However, this is a wrong assumption. Detailed descriptions of past work activity are important evidence to determine whether you are able to perform your past jobs.

In fact, an extensive history shows a judge you’ve been a dedicated and consistent employee. A claimant with a good work record is more likely to be believed by the judge, and thus will often be entitled to “substantial credibility” when claiming he or she has a disability.

Additionally, if you demonstrate you've had unsuccessful work attempts to avoid filing for disability, this also reflects well on your credibility. For example, if you had to quit your position as a UPS delivery person because of severe back trouble, but you tried to perform other jobs within the organization and your health made employment difficult, the judge views you as someone who tried to continue working despite your medical condition. 

Why You Need Cuddigan Law

If you need SS disability benefits due to your medical condition and want help sorting out and citing your work history, call Cuddgian Law. Statistics show your chances of receiving an approved claim are higher if you hire an SS disability attorney.

Having a legal advocate on your side provides you with a sense of relief and comfort knowing you have skilled and experienced assistance when applying for benefits. Contact us for a free phone evaluation. 


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska