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Many claimants complete the Work History Report (Form SSA-3369-BK) as part of a Social Security disability or SSI application process. However, the importance of the report is often not recognized by claimants. It is usually one of several reports that must be completed, and it seems innocuous. But it's not. In many claims, the work history report is just as important to the determination of disability as the claimant's medical records.  

Unless your condition meets a listed impairment, the SSA will make a medical-vocational determination of your claim at steps 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation. The vocational part of that determination relies heavily on your work history report, because the report helps to establish your past relevant work.

At step 4, the SSA will simply compare your RFC to the requirements of your past work, both as that work is described in the work history report, and as generally performed (see Social Security Ruling 82-61). If Social Security determines that you can still perform your past relevant work, your claim will be denied. 

If you do not describe the work requirements accurately, Social Security may conclude that you can still perform that past relevant work. So be sure to fully describe all of the requirements of the work you have performed in the past 15 years. 

  • For each job, include your rate of pay and the hours worked. If a job was part-time or did not last long, be sure to say so. Jobs that were not performed at the level of substantial gainful activity do not count as past relevant work.
  • Be sure to describe the heaviest thing you had to lift and carry. It doesn't matter if you didn't have to lift the item every day. If you had to lift it even occasionally as part of your work, be sure to include it.
  • Be sure to state how long you had to stand and walk in a workday. Again, take the maximum amount that was required, even if it was not required every day.

Keep in mind that the work history report will be used to establish the requirements of your past work, and that Social Security will assess your ability to perform the jobs you describe. So be sure to tell Social Security about the job requirements that you can no longer manage.

Some of the same information is requested in Section 6 of the Disability Report – Adult, Form SSA-3368-BK. Be equally careful with that report.