What is Past Relevant Work?

 By: Disability Group

At Step 4 of the 5-step sequential disability evaluation process that Social Security Administration uses to determine if a claimant is disabled, the claimant has the burden of proving that he or she is incapable of doing any “past relevant work.”

To qualify as past relevant work:

  1. The job must have been performed within:
    1. 15 years prior to adjudication; or
    2. if insured status has lapsed, 15 years prior to the date last insured
  2. The job must have been “substantial gainful activity,” meaning:
    1. the job must have involved doing significant mental or physical activities; and
    2. it must have done at the SGA level.
  3. The job must have lasted long enough for the claimant to develop the ability needed for average performance.

It is important to know that a job qualifies as past relevant work even if the job was done only part-time, as long as it was substantial gainful activity.  Therefore, you as the claimant must identify the easiest full or part-time past relevant job and then figure out why you cannot still do the past work.  If you had an easy job in the past 15 years that you can still do, you will be found not disabled, unless you can put together an argument that your impairments meet or medically equal one of the impairments in the Listing of Impairments.

Determining whether you can do past relevant work is determined by comparing your current residual functional capacity with the physical and mental demands of past relevant work.