The federal program that provides financial assistance for people who can’t work due to serious physical or psychological conditions or impairments, is the Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) program administered by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). To qualify for SSDI benefits, a person must be incapable of working at his current job, or his old job or any similar job. In short, the individual has to be unable to work at any job at all (long enough or consistently enough to make a set monetary amount per month referred to as “substantial gainful activity” or “SGA”).
This means that for any SSDI claim, work, not a person’s diagnosis, is the main focus of the SSA.
First, to even qualify for disability benefits, you have to meet the SSA’s work requirements.
This means that you must have worked in jobs that paid into the Social Security system long enough and recently enough (10 out of the past 15 years) to qualify for SSDI benefits. While certain exceptions to this rule exist (to learn more, contact us), generally, if you do not meet the work requirements, you will not be awarded disability benefits.
Past work or “past relevant work” refers to jobs you did in the past (before you became disabled and no longer able to work).
To be meaningful to your SSDI claim, the relevant timeframe is the last 15 years. So past relevant work could potentially include any job that you did in the past 15 years.
“Other work” comes into play in the disability review process when the SSA (either a disability examiner or an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)) has determined that you can no longer do your past work.
Once they have made that decision, the next question they ask is whether, given your limitations, you are able to do any “other work.”
“Other work” can literally be almost anything. Any job that exists in the national economy. It does not have to be anything even close to what you did before. It does not have to be a job that exists where you live, or even one you’ve ever heard of before. It is simply work that you might possibly be able to do anywhere in the country.
Because this factor is so broad, oftentimes claimants will be denied benefits based on a finding that they could do “other work.”
But that doesn’t mean that you will not be awarded benefits because the SSA will simply say that you could do “other work.”
The disability process does have a mechanism that serves to counterbalance the broadness of the term “other work.”
That mechanism is the “grid”—the medical-vocational rules that take into account a person’s age, skill level, education and specific physical or mental limitations. In the hands of capable counsel, the grid can assist in a finding that you cannot do “other work” resulting in successful outcome for you.
Looking for Some Help With Your Disability Claim?
If you need disability benefits or have been denied benefits, call us. Helping people in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois get the disability benefits they deserve is what we do. And it is the only thing we do. We practice only social security disability law. We have offices throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. We also have offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at 855-727-8625 or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.