Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

HOW DOES MY WORK IN THE PAST AFFECT MY DISABILITY CASE?

If you have filed or intend to file for disability then know that the work you have done can affect your disability care. When someone files for disability with Social Security, they are alleging that they are unable to work. The basis to Social Security disability is not just based on if you can do work you have done before, but also to consider if there is other work you can do.

Let's do an example: Consider someone who was say a construction worker and is filing for disability, but they also had work as a security guard before that. Can that work hurt their case? Sometimes it can and each case is different. Social Security only considers the work you have done in the past 15 years, and that work had to be performed at what they call Substantial Gainful Activity. Substantial gainful activity means that you have to have performed the work long enough to learn it and have earned enough money in order for it to be gainful work. For the year 2019, that amount is approximately $1220 a month. If a person got hurt and is no longer able to do construction that does not necessarily prove disability if in the past 15 years they also worked as a security guard. In order to be found disabled, we have to eliminate their ability to perform that job as well.

It is typical in today's environment to see people work several part time jobs instead of one full time job. This can affect your case. It would depend on if you performed this work at a gainful level. In order to be found not disabled, Social Security has to find that you would be able to work a full-time job. Work that you have done in the past, even part time, can be considered past relevant work if you still meet those requirements I noted above: 1) performed the job long enough and 2) made enough money. Because of benefit changes in our economy, I see many people perform jobs at less than a full-time basis of 40 hours a week, but still earn over the gainful activity limits.

The Social Security Administration can take that information to determine if someone is disabled by going through what is called the Sequential Evaluation Process. There are 5 steps in that process. 1) Are you working? If someone is currently working over SGA they are not disabled. 2) Do you have a severe impairment or combination of impairments that cause limitations on your ability to function.  3) Do you meet a listing? Listings are rules determined by SSA based on specific impairments. If you do not meet a specific listing, we go to step 4. 4) Can you do your past relevant work? This is all work we have discussed above that is to be considered. So if you are able to perform any jobs you did gainfully in the past, the administration can deny your claim. If not, then we go to step 5. 5) Can you do other work which exists in the national economy? At this step, the Social Security Administration usually makes this determination at the hearing level with the help of a vocational expert. The Judge and your representative will ask questions based on your limitations from the severe impairments we listed in step 2 to see if there would be any other jobs. Sometimes the work you did in the past also teaches you skills you can take to another job. We have to consider that factor as well. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of claims get denied, but this is also where a lot of claims get approved.

We are not a vocational service organization and cannot tell you what jobs you are suited for. If you think you can work but know you can't do your past work, then disability may not be what you need. Perhaps vocational rehabilitation services will help you find other jobs or retrain you for other work. However, when we have a client who believes they are disabled, we work to get the information needed to not only show they cannot do their prior work, but also cannot perform other work in the national economy.

If someone has been unable to work, can't find another job and thinks they are disabled, call us at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529 or look us up online at www.gardberglaw.com. Send us a message and we will be happy to review your claim and see if we can help you get the benefits you deserve. There are a lot of issues that go in to proving disability, let us help. Call one of the experienced disability representatives at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 for a free consultation. Gardberg & Kemmerly specialize in helping the injured and disabled in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana.  

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