At some point during your application for disability benefits, you will likely receive a form 3369 from Social Security. This form will ask you for your work history from the past 15 years. The SSA will use your information to determine what jobs you can do and whether your options are limited enough for you to qualify for benefits.
Fifteen years is a long time, and you might have some difficulty remembering all the work you did during that time. However, you must do your best to give complete answers. For each job, Social Security wants to know several things:
1) what the job was called,
2) what type of business that the company was in,
3) your start and end dates for that job,
4) the types of tasks you performed,
5) how much you had to lift and carry in this job – both generally and in specific instances,
6) how much of your day was spent in various postures such as standing, sitting, stooping, etc., and
7) the types of tools and equipment you used and the knowledge and skills that were required.
Additional Disability Benefit Application Tips:
- Be brutally honest. This is not a job interview, so you don’t need to polish up your job tasks.By the same token, it’s important not to downplay the difficult aspects of a job. Don’t exaggerate or downplay your duties. Describe your duties at their most frequent and demanding, not as they were on the easier days at your jobs. Remember that if you’re under age 50, you can only qualify for Social Security disability benefits if your condition leaves you unable to perform any job at any skill level and at any exertional level. Disability eligibility rules are more lenient if you’re 50, but exaggerating what you can do will make things harder.
- Say what you need to say, but you don’t have to give extra information. SSA is primarily interested in the job duties – they don’t necessarily need to know that you were going through a divorce when you worked at a specific job or that a family member helped you find a job that was more willing to accommodate your limitations.
- Be specific. Use physical terms to describe your work. Did you carry empty boxes, or did you carry boxes containing about 40 one-pound containers from the end of the line to a pallet to be wrapped and shipped? Did you supervise coworkers, or were you doing the same job that they were doing and also answering their questions? It’s very common for job titles to include the word “manager” or “supervisor” when those workers don’t actually supervise other people. Of course, being specific may be difficult for jobs you held long ago or for shorter periods of time. As much as possible, though, try to avoid guessing or estimating when describing job tasks and avoid vague or general terms. But, if you do guess, be sure to say so. Remember, the person reviewing your file might not be familiar with the job you are describing, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to understand what you did. Be sure to also mention any unusual but regular duties for a job. For example, if your job was receptionist, but the job also required you to clean the bathrooms every day, be sure to mention that.
- Be consistent. If you tell Social Security that you lost a job because you became unable to appropriately with the general public, but then your next job is in a retail setting, that will raise red flags. Similarly, if you transferred to a job that was easier for you physically, don’t describe it as having the same requirements as the harder job you transferred from. Also, think about what you have written on other forms for Social Security and refer back to those other forms if you need to.
- Answer all the questions. Yes, some of the questions are repetitive, which takes a lot of time, but you do not want your application to be marked as incomplete because that will delay your claim. Depending on the question, you could write “none,” “does not apply,” “I don’t know,” “unsure,” or “N/A.”
Our Social Security Attorneys Provide Personal Attention and Care
Unlike a Social Security advisor that might conduct business over the internet, our clients can always make an appointment to come into one our offices.
If you are ready to hire a disability lawyer to represent you for your claim against the SSA, or you are simply looking to discuss your rights, we can advise you on how to best navigate the red tape and administrative process associated with obtaining your Social Security disability benefits.
Your disability attorney will also assign a case manager to your claim to help ensure that any updates are immediately recorded to your file, and all of the necessary paperwork is handled appropriately.