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How will Social Security Consider my Past Work when I Apply for SSD Benefits?


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The Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI or SSD) is a federal program designed to provide cash assistance to hard-working Americans who are injured or develop a serious condition and can no longer work. However, because SSD is a type of workers’ insurance program, to qualify you must have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits. Provided that you can satisfy the program’s limits on income and have an injury or condition that is considered severe, many people wonder how their past work will affect their ability to obtain benefits. In reality, it depends on your condition, whether it is listed, and the step – if any – where your benefits application is approved.

Ken Kieklak is an experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer who is dedicated to assisting hard-working Arkansans who have suffered an injury or developed an impairment that prevents them from continuing at their job. To put Ken’s more than 20 years of experience to work for you, call the Kieklak Law Office at (479) 316-0438.

You Have a Listed Condition and Are Approved for Benefits at Step 3

The Social Security Administration maintains of list of conditions that it considers to be so severe that the presence of these conditions automatically qualifies the applicant for benefits at step 3 of the 5 step process. What this means is that if you qualify due to the presence of a listed condition alone, the SSA will not even consider your past work or your ability to do other work. However, you will still need to prove the presence of this condition by providing documented medical proof from a qualified physician.

This scenario represents the simplest handling of your past work, but approvals due to a listed condition are, overall, somewhat uncommon.

Your Condition is Severe But Doesn’t Qualify at Step 3 of the Process

If the SSA determines that you have a severe impairment that limits your ability to do work but does not rise to the level of a listed condition, you will need to prove that you qualify for benefits at steps 4 and 5 of the sequential review.

Step 4 uses what is known as your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether you could still perform past work. RFC is simply another way of describing the things and level of activity that you are still able to perform despite the severe injuries or impairments recognized by the SSA. Your RFC is determined by your documented medical impairments, reports by third parties familiar with your daily activities and limitations, assessments by state medical or psychological consultants, and reports by your treating physician.

At Step 4 the claims examiner will determine if you can perform past work. Past work includes work you did up to 15 years prior to the decision and productive mental or physical endeavors performed for pay or profit. However, you must have performed this work for long enough to understand how to perform the job. When the SSA determines if you can do past work the assessment is considered in light of how you performed the work in the past and how the work is typically performed in the national economy. If the claims examiner finds that you can perform the work as you did previously or how it is currently performed in the economy at-large, you will not be considered disabled. However, if it is determined that you cannot perform past work you will move on to step 5.

At Step 5 the SSA will consider whether your RFC will permit you to perform other types of work. When making this determination the SSA claims examiner will consider your education, age, and past work experiences. The SSA considers evidence of both formal and informal education and it generally considers communication problems or illiteracy as limiting educational factors. As for age, the SSA presumes that for workers under 50, age will not seriously affect adjusting to a new work environment. However, they will consider evidence when the claimant is aged between 45 and 49.

If your RFC does not permit you to perform the other work, you will be considered disabled by the SSA and you will qualify for disability benefits through the SSDI program.

Disability Attorney Ken Kieklak May be Able to Help in Arkansas

For more than 20 years injured Arkansans who can no longer perform the work they love have relied on Ken Kieklak. For a free and confidential SSD consultation call (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.

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