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Past Relevant Work and SS Disability

May 26, 2015 Blog

Disability Benefits and Past Relevant Work

What is “past relevant work”? Any claimant for Social Security disability benefits has come across this term. It is an important step in evaluating claims for disability benefits and may be the basis on which your claim is approved or denied, especially if your medical findings alone do not lead to a determination of disability.

If you do not qualify for disability benefits on the basis of your medical findings, you will need to prove you are not capable of doing any “past relevant work”.

A job is relevant work if:

1.  You did it within 15 years before your claim is decided.

2.  You did it long enough to learn to do it as well as the average person.

3.  It was “substantial gainful activity”.

If you can still do a job that qualifies as past relevant work, the following will not affect your case: if your employer will not take you back; if there are no job openings in your vicinity; if the only available jobs pay too little to live on; and if the job no longer exists anywhere.

Remember the “job as it is ordinarily done” rule.  If you can do the job as it is “ordinarily done”, you are not disabled, even if your actual past job was harder – or easier – and you are now unable to do it.