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Prior arduous job experience can disqualify claimant for SS

Sometimes it surprises people with severe medical impairments in North Carolina to learn that their inability to do their occupation does not mean they will be able to secure their Social Security disability benefits. They may erroneously believe that because they have a workers’ compensation claim and are unable to perform their current job, the SSA will find awardable disability.

They may be unaware that to have a disability under the SS definition, claimants must also be unable to perform any other occupation present in the national economy. This requirement holds regardless of whether that claimant has ever performed such other occupations in the past. The SSA considers the claimant’s age, job experience and schooling in this step of the decision-making as well as his or her functional capacities and vocational factors.

Arduous, unskilled work profile may cause inference

There is, however, a regulation that describes when a person has such a disadvantageous vocational profile that the SSA may infer the person has no ability to adjust to other work from a vocational standpoint. If applicable, it therefore determines the claimant is unable to work enough to hold any full-time job. The requirements for this consideration include the following:

  • Educational level was no more than marginal
  • 35 or more years of work record earnings
  • Limited prior work to arduous physical ability
  • Prior work was at unskilled level
  • Inability to perform arduous work due to medical impairments

What is arduous is not as simple as it may seem at first blush. Generally, however, it requires significant strength or endurance. Often the work demands will be notably heavy. However, that word is not a required description. Lifting may involve lighter items but can still be arduous work if it requires extensive stamina, such as frequent, repeated bending and lifting at a very quick rate of speed.

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