At step 4 of Social Security's sequential evaluation, the SSA considers your ability to perform your past relevant work. This is a very important step in the process, because if the SSA determines that you retain the residual functional capacity to return to your past relevant work, your disability claim will be denied.
For those applying for disability benefits, it is important to fully describe the requirements of your past jobs in your work history report or adult disability report. Don't forget to specify the lifting, standing and other requirements of your prior work. Be sure to tell Social Security if your prior work included a composite job, with dual responsibilities.
Social Security will match your current abilities to the requirements of your past work. The SSA looks at both how each job was actually performed by you, and how those jobs are generally performed in the national economy. Social Security will simply compare your abilities with the requirements of each of the previous jobs. It doesn't matter if the past job doesn't exist anymore.
Social Security classifies jobs according to skill level. You may have learned job skills at your previous work. If your acquired job skills can transfer to skilled or semi-skilled work that you are still able to do, it is problematic for your claim.
Eliminating your past relevant work is important for all claimants, but it is particularly important for Social Security disability claimants 50 to 54 years old, claimants 55 to 60 years old, and claimants 61 to 65 years old.