Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Your Employment History and Social Security Disability Benefits

If you have filed for Social Security Disability benefits, the local Social Security Administration office will eventually send you a form for you to list your prior jobs, the duration of each, and provide a brief synopsis of your job duties. This form is extremely important and do not take it lightly.

Disability cases that are denied at the initial level, commonly referred to as Disability Determination Services ("DDS") can be appealed to the next level. At the next level, most claims will eventually require a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ presiding over the hearing will spend a considerable amount of time evaluating, discussing, and investigating the past occupations performed by the claimant over the last fifteen years. The importance of providing an accurate account of a claimant's prior job cannot be underscored enough.

In order to properly decide a claim, an ALJ must measure a claimant's ability to perform their prior work. There is likely no better witness to the duties and obligations of prior jobs than the person who actually performed them. Therefore, the onus of educating the ALJ with regard to your prior jobs falls on the claimant.

For example, when filing out the job history form, if you only state that you were a cashier, the likely connotation is that you were mainly stationery and required minimal amounts of lifting. However, if your real job as a cashier required you to frequently stock shelves, help customers, or unload trucks, the whole classification of your job could change. This would be relevant to someone with back problems or difficulty standing/walking for long periods of time.

The work history form from the Social Security Administration seems simple. However, the information you put on it can clarify some questions that an ALJ has regarding your ability to perform work. The more information you provide, the more clarity you are giving to the ALJ prior to your hearing.

Have questions about prior work or about Social Security Disability benefits? The attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly have been practicing disability law in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida for over twenty years and would be happy to help you.

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