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I have three clients at various stages of the Social Security disability process whose past relevant work is solely as a surgical technician, or surgery tech. Obviously, assisting the doctor in the operating room is a demanding job. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles describes the job as Light, SVP 7 (DOT Code 079.374-022).

At the hearing level, the SSA adds to the disability claim file a document called the “Detailed Earnings Query,” or DEQY. The DEQY lists all the employers that have paid wages (and the amount of annual wages paid), during the past 15 years. Fifteen years is the time frame for past relevant work for Step 4 of the sequential evaluation of a Social Security disability claim.

When past relevant work is critical to a claim (Social Security disability claimants over the age of 55 suffering from physical impairments, in particular), a Representative needs to look very carefully at the DEQY, so that all past relevant work can be properly classified and evaluated.

Let me give an example, one that turned out fine but could have been a disaster.

Continue Reading Look at the DEQY

Why does an administrative judge request a review by a vocational expert of the jobs from a claimant’s work record?

It means that the administrative law judge (ALJ) is considering whether or not you can return to your past relevant work at step 4 of Social Security’s sequential evaluation process. After the vocational expert

Sometimes a prior job is actually more than one job at the same time. You were both a nurse supervisor and performed the duties of an RN. You were both a carpenter and a construction supervisor. These are called composite jobs.

In every disability claim, the SSA must determine (at step 4 of the 5-step

Many people who become disabled at or near the age of 62 choose to file a claim for early retirement benefits instead of Social Security disability benefits. This is a usually a mistake, since the Social Security system penalizes people who retire early, at age 62. If you receive Social Security disability benefits instead, you avoid those

Sometimes workers in chronic pain reduce their hours from full-time to part-time to try to stay employed and manage their pain. If this part-time work is above the SGA level, it can cause a problem for an eventual Social Security disability claim.

Social Security considers whether or not you can return to your past