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In a Social Security disability case, the record often contains a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) or a medical source statement that sets forth limitations like these: lifting and carrying 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently, standing and/or walking for about 2 hours in an 8-hour work day, sitting about 6 hours in

Loyal readers know that I am a strong proponent of the hearing brief, which is filed into the record ahead of a Social Security disability hearing to assist the judge in the evaluation of the claim. Sometimes a post hearing memorandum is also called for. 

In my experience, a post hearing memorandum is needed

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. 

Continue Reading Completing the Work History Report

Vocational rehabilitation records can provide persuasive evidence for a Social Security disability claim.

First, the records show that a claimant has been trying to find work, in spite of his or her impairments. This can be important, because an ALJ often considers the claimant's motivation to work when determining a disability claim.

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

If your past relevant work included a composite job, it can cause problems with your Social Security disability claim. The SSA must determine, at step 4 of the 5-step sequential evaluation process, whether you have the residual functional capacity to perform your past relevant work. Not only does Social Security consider your ability to do your past work as you performed it, but also as generally performed. And this is where the composite job can cause problems with a claim.

Typically, in the short space available on the work history report, you only give the job title for part of your composite job. Then you describe what you had to do. Social Security may find that you can’t do the job as you describe it, buy can still do that job as generally performed. The problem is that the “generally performed” analysis does not consider the composite nature of the job. The SSA will just use the job title that you gave in your work history report to determine how the job is generally performed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). If that past job was a composite job, this approach is incorrect under Social Security’s own rules.

Continue Reading Past Relevant Work: the Composite Job