How Does My Working History Affect My Claim?

Posted November 23, 2016 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® Benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) remove some of the financial strain from individuals and families when disability strikes. Program eligibility depends on various factors, including previous employment for adults who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Work history, including the kinds of jobs you have traditionally held, can also play a role in whether you are able to prove your disability.

Available Disability Programs and Work History Requirements

Benefits may be available to you through the SSDI and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. SSI requires no work history at all, because it is a program for the most financially needy among the disabled population. For SSDI, you must have a fairly recent work history and must additionally have paid Social Security taxes on your income. Your work history translates into work credits with the SSA, and these credits make you a “covered” or “insured” person for SSDI as well as old age or retirement benefits.

SSDI Benefits, SGA Work, and MVA Qualification

Basic SSDI eligibility requires a disability so severe that you cannot participate in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). This essentially means that you are unable to earn a living because of your medical conditions.

You may qualify under one of the SSA’s Blue Book disability listings, which proves you cannot perform SGA work and are therefore entitled to benefits. Not all applicants qualify through the Blue Book though. (See more on the Blue Book here: Most claimants must instead go through a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation and be granted benefits under a Medical Vocational Allowance (MVA).

To approve an MVA, the SSA must see (a) that you can no longer work in your traditional field of employment, and (b) that you can’t succeed in any other field either. To make this determination, adjudicators will review your age, education, job qualifications, and employment history, in addition to your medical records. These factors combined must show that you are not capable of performing SGA level work. Because of this, older applicants and those with fewer transferable job skills are more likely to achieve benefits through an MVA.

Getting Help with Your Disability Claim

No matter your work history, don’t be intimidated by the disability application or eligibility review processes, especially since you do not have to go through it alone. An advocate or attorney can help you make a stronger argument for eligibility. Please contact us for a free case evaluation if you are looking for help with an application, appeal, or if you are waiting to be seen in front of a judge.


By: Thomas A. Klint of Premier Disability Services, LLC®