If there is anything we Americans hate, its paperwork. Unfortunately, when you apply for Social Security Disability or SSI, you get smacked with a lot of it. Too many people rush through the paperwork and make mistakes that can end up costing them their benefits! One of the forms that is easy to mess up is the Work History Report.
It is difficult to remember all those jobs you may have had and even more difficult to remember what you had to do on all of them. But it is extremely important that you are very careful when you fill them out. The Work History Report asks you for information about all of the jobs you have worked in the past 15 years. You are asked how many hours per week you worked, what you were paid, how much lifting you did, how much standing you did, and so on. This information is used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine the exertion level of your past work. This determination is very important.
If you don’t fill out the form very well, you leave it to the government to guess how much you were lifting based on the job title you listed. Unfortunately, the government uses these forms against you. In some cases, the type of work you have done in the past might determine whether you get benefits or not. There are some pretty common mistakes people make.
The first type of error is involves the amount of weight a person lifted on a job. When someone is asked what the heaviest thing they lifted was, they interpret it to mean on a daily basis. I’ve had clients say the heaviest thing they lifted was ten pounds. But when I ask them they will remember that they had to clean the work station weekly and move items around weighing fifty pounds, or that on occasion they had to move furniture or help unload trucks.
The second type of error I frequently see is the “proud client” error. Most of us are proud of what we do. I’ve had people identify themselves as “managers” when in fact they were lead workers. They did the same heavy work everyon else did, they just had some additional leadership responsibilities. Everyone should be proud of what they do, but you can make your case much more difficult by giving the impression you sat at a desk all day pushing papers when you were actually working much harder!
The third type of common error is listing old jobs. The government is only interested in the period of fifteen years before a person became disabled. If you include older jobs, you can confuse the government into thinking you did that type of work more recently – and might be able to do it again!
A fourth error is simple laziness. People think the government has a list of jobs they did because they have their earning records. Those records simply record the name of the employer and the amount of earnings that were reported to the IRS. There is nothing in them about the type of work a person did.
The most important thing to realize is that every form filled out for Social Security is extremely important, and unfortunately, will be used against you at your hearing. Don’t cheat yourself by not taking the time to think carefully about what you did on the jobs. The heaviest thing you lifted means exactly that: the heaviest single thing you ever lifted on the job. List all of the duties you did. Include all the extra duties – cleaning a work station, lifting patients or children, stocking shelves, rearranging office furniture, moving boxes of files – anything you had to do even if it was just occasionally.
At our office, we try to get involved in the case early on. We have our clients send everything to us so we can check them over and clean up any errors or omissions. We don’t want our clients making simple little mistakes that can cost them their case. If you’re applying for Social Security Disability, call us today and schedule an appointment for a free consultation.