When you’re unable to work due to a medical condition or an illness and apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you'll receive a number of forms to complete. One of these is a work history report (form SSA-3369). For many disability claims, this form has a significant impact on the approval of your claim.

Why Your Work History Is Important

tips for filling out work history form for SSDIThe SSA will only approve benefits for claimants who can no longer work their current jobs, can’t return to past jobs, or are unable to work any job they may be skilled to do. Thus, your work history report is a critical piece of information used by the SSA when determining your ability to work.

Consequently, it’s important to provide details of all past jobs and positions, so the SSA can clearly understand the types of jobs you might be able to do, as well as the jobs and tasks you can’t do. 

Tips for Filling Out Your Work History

If you complete the SSA Work History Report correctly, it can be advantageous when a claims examiner looks at the jobs you’ve done as they relate to your disability status. Here are a few tips to help you with this form.  

Be detailed and thorough describing job duties

It’s important to cite all of the tasks you performed in any of your past jobs. For example, if you worked as a secretary or an administrative assistant, you might state that your job duties required you to work on a computer, answer the phone, and greet visitors.

However, claimants often make a critical error by leaving out other tasks. You may have also carried boxes of bottled water and placed the drinks in a refrigerator. You may have carried heavy boxes of printer paper and toner to a work room. You may have been asked to drive to pick up food for company lunches and functions. These details are important because, even if you didn’t perform these tasks every day, they were part of your responsibilities, and the SSA reviewers may then see your position as a “composite” job.

This means the job has “significant elements of two or more occupations.” Thus, with a full and complete picture of all your tasks, the SSA might find it more difficult to determine your ability to return to employment it's deemed as a composite job.

Use accurate job titles

Some claimants cite a past position was in management, or they were responsible for supervising other employees, when in reality they were simply acting as a mentor for workers on a new project or assisting new employees.

Keep in mind the SSA looks for skills that are “transferable” to another job or position. Thus, if you state you managed and/or supervised others, SSA claim evaluators may see these as transferrable skills that can be used in almost any occupation, making it difficult for you to prove disability.

Cite your work dates and hours precisely

Any job you’ve held must meet specific criteria for the SSA to consider it “past relevant work”—work you did within the last 15 years that you performed long enough to learn thoroughly, and worked at full time.

If you only worked part-time, or held a technical or skilled position for a few months, it’s important to make this clear. Neither job should count toward your past relevant work because you didn’t perform the work long enough or with enough consistency to be proficient and effective. Be honest and detailed so the SSA can’t make assumptions about any of the jobs you’ve had.

Why You Need Cuddigan Law

The accuracy of your job history form is a critical component of your claim for Social Security disability benefits. Because filling out government paperwork is often a tedious and challenging process, you may feel uncertain about what to include and which details are necessary.

Contact a skilled Social Security (SS) disability benefits attorney who can help. Call Cuddigan Law for a free, over-the-phone evaluation. 

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