What's the purpose of the 'work history report' from SSA?

When you file for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you'll eventually be asked to complete a work history report (Form SSA-3369-BK).

A lot of people struggle with this form because they don't really understand its purpose. All they know is that it wants them to list the work they've done for the last 15 years of their life prior to their disability onset. Because they don't understand how SSA will use the information gleaned from this form, many people fill it out in a way that can be seriously disadvantageous to their case.

Here's what you need to understand: The sole purpose of this form, from Social Security's perspective, is to find a way to deny your claim by saying that you can still do the work you've done before or something similar. In other words, how you describe the work you did is very important because Social Security is going to look at the description, match it against your disability and try to rationalize why you should be able to keep working.

You don't want that to happen.

The more specific you are about your job duties, the better. There are blank lines you can use to give additional information to clarify why a job is now impossible for you to do -- and you can attach pages of your own with additional information if you want. Since the form isn't particularly great at addressing the mental capacity required to do a job, make sure that you add information about that as well. The level of concentration a job requires could be an important part of why you can no longer do that job if you're struggling with things like depression, anxiety and pain.

Don't take chances with your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. An attorney can help you work through the confusing forms you receive so that you don't miss something important.

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