Friday, February 18, 2005

Be sure to furnish SSA details on physical and mental demands of past jobs

Disability examiners have the option of not asking claimants for details of their past work under a Social Security Administration (SSA) policy dated June 2004 [1] SSA is permitting this practice even though the agency’s regulations explain the potential need for job history going back fifteen years.

When examiners exercise their option to dispense with details of work history, it can have serious consequences for claimants who need and deserve benefits.

When examiners forgo asking claimants to complete the SSA work history questionnaire, it deprives the claimants of an opportunity to demonstrate that their past work is now too hard for them.

Is it wise for claimants to leave it up to disability examiners to decide whether this important evidence is in their claim folders?

Incapacity for past relevant work (PRW) is something claimants must prove to win benefits, except in cases where medical findings are unusually severe. [2] SSA reaffirmed the necessity for this proof in Social Security Ruling (SSR) 05–1c published February 15, 2005.

Unless claimants have the foresight to furnish work history without being asked, they often may fail to win the cash and healthcare benefits they paid for with their FICA withholding.

To avoid this potentially fatal gap in proof, claimants can do one of two things. They can either fill out and submit to SSA a Work History Report on Form SSA-3369, or can furnish SSA a completed set of Disability Workbook worksheets. Following either procedure assures that SSA has the evidence with which to compare their current limitations with the physical and mental demands of their past jobs, and to make a sound decision on their capacity to do past work.

The Form SSA-3369 is available free on the Internet at:

The Worksheets are available as part of the Pds Disability Workbook for Social Security Applicants and separately as a downloadable e-book on:

[1] For example, SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS), Section DI 20501.035.
[2] Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 20, Section 1565.

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