PURPOSE: To clarify the policy in determining whether a claimant can perform his or her past relevant work, i.e., whether the claimant retains the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform the physical and mental demands of the kind of work he or she has done in the past.
CITATIONS (AUTHORITY): Sections 223(d)(2)(A) and 1614(a)(3)(B) of the Social Security Act, as amended; Regulations No. 4, sections 404.1520(e), 404.1545, 404.1561 and 404.1565(a); Regulations No. 16, sections 416.920(e), 416.945, 416.961 and 416.965(a).
PERTINENT HISTORY: The part of the law pertaining to past relevant work provides that as a part of the requirements for a finding of disability a claimant must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment of such severity that he or she is not able to do his or her previous work. Sections 404.1520(e) and 416.920(e) of the regulations state as follows:
The regulations further state, in sections 404.1565(a) and 416.965(a), that work experience applies (is relevant) when it was done within the last 15 years, lasted long enough for the person to learn to do it and was substantial gainful activity.
A basic program principle is that a claimant's impairment must be the primary reason for his or her inability to engage in substantial gainful work. This reflects the intent of Congress that there be a clear distinction between disability benefits and unemployment benefits. Congress has also expressed the intent that disability determinations be carried out in as realistic a manner as possible.
Three possible tests for determining whether or not a claimant retains the capacity to perform his or her past relevant work are as follows:
POLICY STATEMENT: Under sections 404.1520(e) and 416.920(e) of the regulations, a claimant will be found to be "not disabled" when it is determined that he or she retains the RFC to perform:
EFFECTIVE DATE: Final regulations covering this policy were published in the Federal Register on August 20, 1980 (45 FR 55566).
FURTHER INFORMATION: A properly completed SSA-3369- F6, Vocational Report, may be sufficient to furnish information about past work. There may be cases involving significant variations between a claimant's description and the description shown in the DOT. In some instances, an apparent variation may result from an incomplete or inaccurate description of past work. Employer contact or further contact with the claimant, may be necessary to resolve such a conflict. Also composite jobs have significant elements of two or more occupations and, as such, have no counterpart in the DOT. Such situations will be evaluated according to the particular facts of each individual case. For those instances where available documentation and vocational resource material are not sufficient to determine how a particular job is usually performed, it may be necessary to utilize the services of a vocational specialist or vocational expert.
CROSS-REFERENCES: Program Operations Manual System, Part 4 (Disability Insurance State Manual Procedures) sections DI 2041, 2068, 2093, 2105D, 2380D, and 2383A.
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