Here’s an example. I am a lawyer. When I first started doing disability work, I was traveling all over the country doing disability hearings. I had to carry a lot of files and the job was actually physically demanding because I was constantly running through airports and going from one hearing office to another to hotels to more airports. But if I had gotten injured and could no longer run around and carry files, I shouldn’t get disability benefits because I can certainly get another lawyer job that’s not nearly as physically demanding. In fact, because I work for myself, I can be pretty flexible. I can put my feet up at work. I can take breaks when I need to. In fact, I can (and have when very sick) work from bed if I need to.
Compare that to a 60 year-old construction worker. The construction worker is on his feet all day and has to lift up to 100 pounds. If the construction worker hurts his back and can’t be on his feet all day and lift that much, who else is going to hire him? Can he do his job from bed? What other options does he have?
So, you can see why the work matters. In fact, we have rules for situations like the construction worker where if you are above 50 and you did really heavy work and now you might be able to do a job sitting down but have no skills that transfer to a job that’s sitting down, you can get disability. This is why it’s really important that Social Security understands what you used to do. Cases are won and lost all the time because someone lifted ten pounds at a job, not fifty or the person stood six hours instead of two. We really need to understand exactly what your job was so we can classify it correctly.
When you’re filling out the Work History reports, keep in mind that we don’t really care where you worked, we care what you were doing. If you were doing the same work at multiple places, you can lump them together. We want to know how much you were lifting, how much you were using your hands, if you had to reach overhead, if you were supervising people, if you were filling out paperwork and if you were gaining skills that could be useful elsewhere.
This is particularly important if you are over 50. If you are over 55 and did desk work, we’re really only looking to see if you can do your old work. If you are under 50, then we’re still looking if there is any work out there that you can do, so it matters less. But the more skills you have, the more flexible your work environment can be, so it still matters.
Also keep in mind how physical your job was. A dealer in a casino may not seem physical, but the dealer is reaching constantly. The dealer cannot perform that job with a shoulder or neck injury. Really think about what your body was doing each day when filling out the forms.
If you have any further questions, please contact The Foster Law Firm at (480)621-7231 or buy our book, Social Security Disability Guide for Beginners now available at Amazon.com.