Sample Questions: Disability Benefits and Work History

Work Experience

For work to be “past relevant work” it must have been done within the last 15 years, lasted long enough for you to learn to do it, and was substantial gainful activity.

Thus, for all work during 15 years prior to date of adjudication or prior to last date insured if that date is earlier, you may be asked about the following:

1. Job background information:

  • Name of employer
  • Approximate dates of employment
  • Name of job
  • Job duties
  • Full time or part time
  • Length of employment
  • Did you do this job long enough to learn the job and develop “the facility needed for average performance”
  • Earnings (relevant to SGA issue and in assessing skill level)
  • Why did you leave this job?
  • Before you left this job, did your impairment cause you to miss work, do a poor job, change job duties, change hours of work, etc.?

2. Exertional level:

  • Heaviest weight lifted/carried
  • How often did you lift/carry this much?
  • What objects weighed this much?
  • How far did you carry them?
  • Average weight lifted/carried
  • How often?
  • What objects?
  • How far?
  • How much sitting and standing/walking in an eight-hour working day?
  • Did the nature of this job allow you to sit, stand or walk as you chose?
  • How much bending? Any crawling, climbing, balancing?
  • How much manipulative ability was required?

3. Environmental limitations:

  • Describe work environment: temperature, wetness, humidity, noise, vibration, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, hazards (e.g. machinery, heights).

4. Skill level:

  • How long did it take to learn to do this job?
  • Describe machines, tools and equipment used.
  • Describe any technical knowledge or skill used on this job.
  • Describe any writing or completing reports.
  • How much independent judgment was required?
  • Describe any supervisory responsibilities: how many people? Did you complete work evaluations? Have any hiring/firing responsibilities?

5. Stress level:

Where stress tolerance is an issue:

  • What was it about this job that you found stressful? e.g., speed, precision, complexity, deadlines, working within a schedule, making decisions, exercising independent judgment, working with other people, dealing with the public (strangers), dealing with supervisors, being criticized by supervisors, simply knowing that work is supervised, monotony of routine, getting to work regularly, remaining at work for a full day?

6. Meeting your burden of proof:

  • Why can’t you do this job now?

Or, if no longer insured for Title II:

  • Why couldn’t you do this job as of [the date last insured]?

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