Reviewing your Social Security exhibit file – Part 3 work history

Now that I know the critical dates and the medical history I review the work history.

Social Security reviews cases using the 5 step sequential evaluation process. At step 4, if you are still able to do any of the jobs you performed in the last 15 years before you became disabled, you can be denied benefits. There are a couple more wrinkles to this, such as the job has to be a substantial gainful activity, but the general idea is that if you can still do a job your over the last 15 years, you can be denied.

That’s why your work history is so vitally important in a disability case. Here is how you get started.

I often start with the “Disability History – Work Report” and the “Work Background Report.” These are forms you filled out for Social Security describing the type of work you did.

There may be jobs here that you have forgotten about and these documents may provide the beginning and ending dates for the various jobs.

However, you also have to check the earnings reports:

Social Security Administration - Exhibit List Index 3

These provide your earnings reported by your employers and are another way to make sure you have not forgotten about a job. There have also been several instances where my clients and I found that someone in another state was using their Social Security number to work because those earnings were also showing up in these reports. Going over each employer is a way of making sure that you have not forgotten any work. This goes a long way to avoiding any surprises at your hearing.

The last report also describes any unemployment benefits you received. Read the linked article for more information about how unemployment can affect your case.

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Tomasz Stasiuk

Disability and Estate Planning Attorney - Visit me at