The work history report is important. This is because part of the evaluation SSA will make about your disability claim is whether you can return to any of the work you have done in the 15 years before you became disabled. If you can return to any job you had in the past 15 years, SSA is going to find you are not disabled. For this reason, SSA needs detailed information about what you did at the your past jobs.
Think Carefully Before You Begin To Write
Filling out the work history report requires attention to detail. Remember that SSA is going to classify your abilities in terms of things like lifting, carrying, sitting, standing, and walking. The more specific information you provide about your abilities in each of these areas, the better SSA is going to be able to decide if you can return to your prior work. So, while it might be tempting to rush through this form and not list what your past jobs required, this would be a mistake.
The better approach is to carefully think of every single thing each past job required and then list all those requirements on the work history report. Pay
particular attention to such physical demands as lifting and carrying. Even if the job you are describing was not manual labor, there was likely some requirement to lift and carry. If your job required you to sit for most of the day, let SSA know that. Heed all the sub-categories, such as kneeling, crouching, and crawling. Pay close attention to the questions about use of your hands, such as your ability to handle, feel, and grasp. Even one significant limitation in any of these areas could be enough to eliminate a past job.
Which Jobs Do I Need To List?
When you fill out your work history report, you can stick with only those full-time jobs that lasted several months. If you worked for a week at a summer camp, no need to list that. This is because SSA is only going to look at the jobs you did long enough to have learned and performed for a substantial amount of time, at least 3 months.
Don't Exaggerate What You Used To Do
Be sure not to overstate your skill levels or the degree to which you were a manager or lead worker. The more job skills you identify, the more likely SSA is to think that you could apply those skills to other, less demanding work. Many employers hand out titles that come with no real responsibility. So, if you were the night-shift assistant manager, but did not really control anyone or anything, make sure your work history report reflects that.
Unless you were hiring and firing employees and had some significant say in how the business was run, you were not likely in management. Even a bit of over-statement of how important you were to your past employers could make a difference in getting disability.
Did You Have Multiple Job Duties?
In today's economy, many employees have what are often called "composite jobs." This means that a single worker was doing parts of many different job titles. A receptionist, for example, may do filing when he is not answering phones. A retail clerk could be also stocking the shelves. If your job had a lot of different aspects to it, make sure you write that down.
Did You Have Too Many Jobs To List?
The work history report has room for only six jobs. Some people have worked many more than that. Indeed, some unfortunates with mental impairments have worked hundreds of jobs in the past 15 years. Often, these jobs last a few days to a few weeks. If that describes you, list the work by category, such as labor, retail, fast food, administrative, or agricultural.
Don't Leave Anything Unsaid
Take advantage of the last section of the form, called Remarks. In this section, you can write in narrative format anything that you think was important about the work you have done in the past. It could be that the reason you had to leave a job is not contained in any of the other sections of the work history report. If so, here is your chance to explain.
Be Complete And Truthful
Above all else, tell the truth in this form. Describe your job duties thoroughly and accurately. But, do so in a way that maximizes your chances of getting disability benefits.