One of the items an administrative law judge may consider when deciding your disability case is whether or not you were steadlily employed prior to applying for disability. All else being equal, a disability claimant with a twenty year work record tends to be looked at more favorably than a person with the same impairments who has never had steady work.
Some judges place great weight on this issue. I recently read an ALJ decision that said the following:
In this instance, the claimant has a poor work record. The claimant’s work reveals an individual who was chronically underemployed or unemployed. A claimant with a good work record is entitled to substantial credibility in assessing the severity of pain. The converse is also true, that a poor or nonexistent work record permits a rebuttable inference that the alleged claims of severe disabling pain and marked restriction of function are not credible. The claimant’s poor work record permits the inference that the claimant does not possess a strong work ethic, and is not entitled to the favorable inference those who possess a commendable work ethic are entitled to receive.
Now, the judge who denied this particular claim will grant a claim from the bench when the claimant is highly motivated to work. I’ve seen it.
Other judges do not put so much weight on the work record. So you have to know your judge – a recurring theme of mine, if you haven’t noticed.