Ability to Return to Past Relevant Work
Our attorneys in Boise, Idaho understand the process of qualifying for disability is complicated. Several factors are evaluated before a determination is made. In addition to being incapable of performing your current job, you must not be able perform any past relevant work. Simply put, your disability must prevent you from returning to a position that you held in the past. This is especially important if you are over 50. However, there are certain criteria that must be met to qualify as past relevant work. Our Boise Social Security attorneys are ready to assist you in developing the best strategy for obtaining the benefits you have earned.
It’s important to know what conditions must be met for a job to meet past relevant work criteria. First, the position must’ve been held within the last fifteen years. If you aren’t insured, the date is fifteen years from the last day you were insured. Additionally, the job must’ve been substantial gainful activity. For information regarding substantial gainful activity, see the article “Frequently Asked Questions about SS Social Security.” Finally, the job must’ve been held for a period long enough for you to acquire the basic skills for average job performance. In other words, if you weren’t successful while working, it isn’t relevant work.
If SSA determines you’re unable to perform previous work, the next step requires proving that you aren’t able to perform any other type of work. To make this decision, SS will look at your physical and mental capabilities and evaluate your age, education level, and work experience.
Consider the following example. A claimant was previously employed as a steel worker in a position that required him to be able to lift a minimum of 100 pounds. He was involved in a motorcycle accident causing severe injuries. His doctor has determined that he cannot safely lift more than 20 pounds. As a result of not being able to lift the 100 pound minimum weight required in his current position, he is unable to return to work.
In a separate case, our claimant performed office work, considered a sedentary position. He rarely lifted more than 10 pounds. He will be able to return to work so he would be found not disabled.
Returning to the claimant in the first scenario, the judge would realize that the claimant couldn’t return to his current position. He would, then, contemplate whether or not there is any other type of work that the claimant is qualified to perform. Although the claimant can only lift 10 pounds, there are numerous sedentary positions, including a desk job at a construction company that he could perform. If the claimant possesses the mental capacity to do such a job, then the judge would expect him to do that and find him not disabled.
Unfortunately, SSA states that if you are capable of performing past relevant work, then you are not disabled. They do not consider whether or not the job you once did is available anymore or not. However, there are exceptions to this rule that can be made in certain situations. This can make it easier for you to qualify for disability benefits.
In addition, after you have reached the age of 50, the rules are more liberal, making it easier to qualify for disability benefits. If you fall within the ages of 50 and 54 and have unskilled or semi-skilled work experience, you can be approved for benefits, even if you can perform sedentary work. If you’re illiterate and have no past relevant work or cannot speak English, you may be approved even if you can perform light duties. People between the ages of 55 and 59 can qualify even if they’re capable of performing light work. In fact, individuals can be approved even if they can perform medium work if they haven’t completed more than an eleventh grade education and have no past relevant work.
The final age group is comprised of people between 60 and 64. If you only have a high school diploma or an eleventh grade education and your work history is comprised of nontransferable skills, you can qualify despite being able to perform light work. If you possess an eleventh grade education and can perform medium work, you may be eligible. Additionally, if you have an eleventh grade education and have no work experience, you can qualify. Finally, if you have a sixth grade education and your past work was unskilled, you are eligible for benefits.
There are several components that the Social Security Administration considers when determining if you can perform past relevant work or not. It is important to know how this can factor into your claim for disability benefits. Contact our expert Social Security lawyers in Boise, Idaho to discuss your individual case.