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How Does Past Relevant Work Affect a Social Security Disability Claim?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

illinois social security lawyerIf health issues have affected your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If your condition has lasted or will last for at least one year, and it has prevented you from earning a sufficient income, it may be considered a disability. However, during the process of applying for disability benefits, you will be required to provide extensive evidence demonstrating that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. Social Security will look at a number of issues during the application process, and one of these is your past relevant work and whether you are still able to perform these types of work.

Evaluating Past Relevant Work

As part of the five-step evaluation process used to determine eligibility for disability benefits, Social Security will look at whether you are currently able to perform past relevant work. To determine whether work you had previously done is relevant, Social Security will consider the following factors:

  • Was the work substantial and gainful? To be relevant, work you had done in the past must be considered substantial gainful activity (SGA). Social Security determines whether work meets this standard based on the amount of income earned, and the applicable SGA amounts are updated each year. For example, in 2010, Social Security defined SGA as $1,000 per month. If you worked during that year in a position where you earned at least that amount, your work may be relevant.

  • How long was the work performed? Social Security will look at how long you worked in a certain position and whether this was enough time to gain sufficient experience to continue performing that type of work. The amount of time needed will vary depending on the nature and complexity of the job, and Social Security may consider whether you worked long enough to understand the necessary techniques and build the skills required to maintain average performance for that particular job. If you only worked in a position for a short period of time and do not have the experience needed to work in a similar job, this work may not be relevant.

  • How recent was the work? The relevance of the work will depend on how long ago it was performed. Because jobs tend to change over time, Social Security will generally consider work experience to no longer be relevant if at least 15 years have passed since the work was performed. However, if you started a job more than 15 years ago but left the position within the 15-year period, this work may still be considered relevant.

During the evaluation process, Social Security will evaluate your residual functional capacity (RFC), or your ability to perform work based on limitations that affect you due to your physical or mental conditions. If Social Security determines that you have the RFC to perform past relevant work, you will not be considered disabled, and your disability claim will be denied.

Contact Our Chicago Social Security Disability Application Attorney

Past relevant work is just one factor that may be considered when evaluating a Social Security disability claim. Attorney Jonathan Pearson can provide you with legal help when applying for disability benefits or during an appeal. He will help you provide evidence to show that you cannot perform work you have done in the past or other forms of work available. To learn how Pearson Disability Law, LLC can help with your claim, contact our Illinois Social Security disability lawyer at 312-999-0999 and set up a free consultation.




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