THE NATURE OF WORK PERFORMED IS A DISABILITY FACTOR
In the five-step sequential process for getting Social Security Disability Insurance, it first must be determined that a claimant is not engaging in substantial gainful activity and has a severe impairment. Many California residents who apply for SSDI benefits are denied because their impairments do not meet the Social Security Administration's threshold, which is required at step three of the process. At steps four and five, the nature and type of work previously performed becomes a factor, and it is not only the last job held that matters.
Step four evaluates a claimant's residual functional capacity to determine what they are capable of doing in consideration of their impairments. Evaluators will also assess the RFC to see if past relevant work can be performed. Disability experts emphasize that past relevant work includes all jobs performed within the past 15 years that lasted at least three months and had earnings that were at the substantial gainful activity level or higher.
Step five determines whether any jobs exist that the claimant can perform in consideration of the RFC, even if that type of work was never performed previously by the individual. The disability examiners look to theoretical jobs that might exist in the national economy.
An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can offer the guidance and counsel necessary to present evidence in a manner beneficial to the claimant. Often, this occurs at the disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge only after denials on the initial application. Legal counsel could help the claimant get the benefits they deserve.