Past Relevant Work

An important factor in determining whether you will qualify for Social Security disability benefits is your "past relevant work." You should understand how your past relevant work will affect your disability claim and why it is so important, especially if you do not qualify for disability benefits on the basis of your medical findings alone.

THE FACTOR OF AGE IN SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY EVALUATION

By Terry LaPorte, San Jose disability lawyer

Many medical conditions occur more frequently to workers as they age into the later part of their working years. Most people are not limited by arthritis, cardiac disease, Type II diabetes, and many other conditions until reaching their 50s and 60s.

The Social Security regulations take age into consideration by essentially requiring that younger workers under age 50 go back to school, or otherwise learn a new trade if a severe illness or injury causes them to be unable to perform the only work they had carried out.

Meeting the Duration Requirement

Your impairment must have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months for you to qualify for benefits. You don’t have to wait until you have been unable to work for a whole year to apply for benefits. The SSA will presume that your impairment will meet the duration requirement if it’s the type of condition that obviously will last a long time, for example a serious spinal cord injury.

Meeting the Severity Requirement

To qualify for disability benefits, you must have a “medically determinable impairment” and your impairment must be “severe.” The purpose of this requirement is to eliminate frivolous cases. These are cases in which the claimant’s condition interferes with the ability to work only slightly, or in which the claimant does not have a genuine medical problem.