A few weeks after you file your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you’ll find a “Work History Report” in your mailbox. This Work History Report, sent by Determination Services (DDS), is typically due within 10 days of receipt. And, it is one of the most important documents you’ll complete during your process of applying for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The Work History Report is important to your claim because it gives you the opportunity to provide a thorough description of your past work. It is critical that the Social Security Administration (SSA) knows your work record. And, what kind of work you did in the past.
How Your Job History Impacts Disability
As part of the disability evaluation process, SSA will decide whether your medical impairments prevent you from returning to work. They’ll specifically look at the type of work you’ve performed over the last 15 years. To complete this assessment, SSA must have a thorough understanding of your job title, the industry in which you were working, and the day-to-day physical and mental demands of the work activity. The more details and description you provide about work demands, the better.
However, this is an area to exercise caution because claimants often make mistakes at this step. In some cases, these mistakes unnecessarily delay or torpedo a good claim.
Common Social Security Disability Work History Report Mistakes
These are the most common mistakes we see in our practice:
- Not taking the Work History Report seriously. If you’ve had similar positions over the years, the Work History Report feels boring and repetitive. But, it is still important to give a detailed description of each job you’ve had over the past 15 years. You can generally skip a job if it was part-time or if it was so short-lived that you made <$1000/mo. Don’t make any assumptions. Write everything you did out in great detail.
- Downplaying the physical or cognitive demands of your prior work activity. You should describe the job as you performed it. Do not describe how you could perform it now that you’re suffering from disabling impairments. As an example, many retail workers forget to include that they stocked shelves with heavy merchandise. Or, restaurant workers may fail to mention that they pulled heavy boxes from subzero freezers. Or, worked around gas burners or cooking fumes. These activities could be work preclusive (a fancy term for impossible to perform) for someone with degenerative disc disease or COPD.
- Leaving parts of the report blank. Do not leave any blank spaces. It opens a window that could result in the SSA rejecting the entire report. As an example, if your job never required crawling on the ground – put 0 hours where indicated.
- There is one section of the Work History Report that can be particularly confusing because it asks about how much time you spent on each activity during a typical workday. When completing this section, it is important to ensure that the hours spent walking, standing, and sitting add up to how many hours you worked in a day. For example, if you worked an eight hour shift, the time spent walking, standing, and sitting could not add up to more than eight hours. Below is an example of how this form might look when completed correctly. Please note how the first three categories add up to the exact number of hours worked in a typical shift. The remaining actions do not need to add up to eight hours. Or, however many hours your work shifts used to be since you may have had a wide range of duties depending on your work history.
- The “I didn’t lift anything” answer. The Work History Report contains a question about your heaviest weight lifted. Some claimants answer “I didn’t lift anything.” But, this is typically a big mistake as lifting requirements are key in SSA disability determinations. All jobs require some lifting. As an example, if you occasionally lifted more than 20lbs but only lifted 5 pounds every day, answer “20lbs”! It is common to see denials because claimants fail to accurately list the amount of weight they lift. Don’t make this mistake!
Remember, there’s no one better suited to fill out a work history report than you – the person performing the work activity. Just remember, don’t sell yourself short. Be truthful, but descriptive. Don’t assume anyone knows why your job was hard. Think clearly about all the mental and physical requirements of past jobs. After all, the more demanding your job was, the more difficult it is for SSA to find you can return to that work.
Disability lawyers help their clients complete Work History Reports. If you’re applying for Social Security Disability benefits alone and would like to work with a disability lawer, contact us today. We offer free consultations on your claim and there’s no obligation to hire the firm.