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How does an SSDI applicant's prior work matter?

A few weeks ago, this blog discussed what might happen when the Social Security Administration (SSA) gets an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for a condition that does not meet one of the 'Blue Book's' disability listings. To refresh, one major consideration in determining whether an applicant is disabled is whether he or she can do the same work done previously. But how would the SSA go about determining this?

First, the SSA will need to figure out what past work is relevant to the question of the person's disability. To do this, the adjudicating officer will look at a few factors. These include whether the work was done within the 15 years prior to adjudication of the petition, and whether the applicant was engaged in the work long enough to learn how to do it. The SSA will also evaluate whether the work involved significant and productive use of mental or physical faculties for the purpose of pay or profit.

After determining that a particular past work experience is relevant, the SSA will then go on to consider whether the applicant can still do this work. To do this, the adjudicator will consider how the work was actually done by the applicant, as well as how the same type of work is normally done in the wider pool of work in the national economy. To do this, the SSA will require that the applicant provide it with a detailed description of how he or she actually performed the job duties of the past relevant work.

As might be apparent by the above considerations, whether an applicant will be found to be disabled may well hinge on how the person describes their past work experience in their application for benefits. Given this fact, New Jersey residents who cannot work due to a disability, and want to file for SSDI benefits, may wish to consider engaging a lawyer with experience in handling SSDI issues.

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