Qualifying for Disability Benefits Step 4: Past Relevant Work
You are not disabled if you can still do your “past relevant work.” This means that you must prove that you are incapable of doing any work that you have performed in the last 15 years (or in the 15 years before your disability insured status requirement was last met, if that date is earlier), if that work was done at the “substantial gainful activity” level and lasted long enough for you to learn how to do it. Thus, you have to identify your easiest job and then figure out why you cannot still do that kind of work.
If you had an easy job in the past 15 years that you can still do, then you will be found not disabled unless you can put together an argument that the impairments meet or medically equal one of the impairments in the Listing of Impairments (Step 3).
If you retain the capacity to do a job as it is ordinarily done, then you will be found not disabled even though your actual past job required greater exertion and you are unable to do that particular job. The “job as it is ordinarily done” rule will not be applied to your benefit, however. If your own past work was easier than the way the job is ordinarily done, SSA will examine the actual job requirements as you performed them in determining whether you can perform past relevant work. This rule applies even if the past job was done only part-time, as long as it was substantial gainful activity.
Determining whether you can do past relevant work is accomplished by comparing your current residual functional capacity with the physical and mental demands of past relevant work.