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How the judge analyzes whether you can do past relevant work

  • Published: March 13, 2012

Whether you are capable of performing your “past relevant work” may be an issue in your Social Security disability case.  If the answer is yes, you will not be disabled.  In general, “past relevant work,” includes all jobs you did during the past 15 years for long enough to learn how to do them (generally 30 days).

When your ability to do former jobs is an issue, the administrative law judge will be interested in the answer to these three questions:

  • What are the physical and mental demands of your former work as you actually performed it?
  • What are the physical and mental demands of your former work as generally required by employers throughout the national economy?
  • Can you meet the demands of your former work, either as you actually performed it or as it is generally performed in the national economy?

Demands of former work as you performed it

Your testimony about how you did your former jobs is usually sufficient to answer this question.  Social Security regulations state that a claimant’s statements are generally sufficient for determining the skill level and demands of the claimant’s past work.

However, the administrative law judge may ask a vocational expert to be present at your hearing.  In that case, the judge will probably ask the expert to describe your past relevant work. The regulations provide that evidence from a vocational expert may be helpful in supplementing or evaluating your description of past work.

Demands of former work as required in national economy

If it appears you are unable to do any past job as you actually performed it, the administrative law judge will want to know whether your employer required you to exert yourself or perform duties in excess of the requirements of most other employers.  In other words, the administrative law judge will want to know what employers typically require of employees in your former position.

The answer to this question will come from a vocational expert.  A vocational expert may offer relevant evidence within his or her expertise or knowledge concerning the physical and mental demands of your past relevant work, either as you actually performed it or as generally performed in the national economy.

You will be found not disabled if you retain the capacity to perform the job as ordinarily required by employers throughout the national economy, even if you cannot do the job as your formerly performed it.

When a disability case involves questions about your ability to do a former job and a vocation expert will be testifying, it’s important to have a disability lawyer by your side.  An experienced Ocala disability lawyer will know how to cross-examine the expert who testifies that you are capable of doing a past job.  For a free evaluation of your disability case, contact Ocala disability lawyer CJ Henry at (352) 304-5300.

Claudeth Henry

Attorney Henry is a Florida disability lawyer uniquely suited to
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