HomeDisability InsuranceNew Definition of Past Relevant Work in Social Security Disability Claims

New Definition of Past Relevant Work in Social Security Disability Claims

Recently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) published a final rule aimed at improving the disability adjudication process. One significant change is the redefinition of past relevant work (PRW), which affects how disability claims are evaluated. This change will go into effect on June 8, 2024.

Major Changes to Past Relevant Work (PRW):

  1. Reduction in the Look-back Period: The SSA has reduced the look-back period for evaluating past relevant work from 15 years to 5 years. This means that only work performed within the last 5 years will be considered relevant in determining disability benefits. This change aligns the evaluation process with the modern labor market and recognizes that skills and job requirements can change rapidly.
  2. Exclusion of Short-term Employment: Work that begins and ends in less than 30 calendar days will no longer be considered past relevant work. This rule applies regardless of whether the job was full-time or part-time. The rationale is to exclude brief, insignificant work experiences that do not contribute significantly to an individual’s work history or skills. This provision is intended to simplify the evaluation process and reduce the burden on claimants by focusing on more stable and relevant employment.

These changes are part of the SSA’s broader effort to modernize and streamline the disability determination process. By focusing on more recent and relevant work experience, the SSA hopes to improve the accuracy and fairness of disability determinations, reduce processing times, and better reflect current labor market conditions.

Impact on Social Security Disability Claimants

  • For New Applicants: Those applying for disability benefits will benefit from a simpler process that emphasizes recent work experience and reduces the burden on claimants to provide information about jobs held more than a decade ago.
  • For Pending Claims: These important changes aren’t just for new claims. Those waiting for a decision or hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will also benefit.
  • For the SSA: These updates are expected to reduce administrative burdens and improve the efficiency of claims processing, helping to reduce the backlog of disability claims.

These changes represent a significant step forward in improving the disability adjudication process. For more detailed information, you can read the full text of the final rule in the Federal Register here. If you need help with your Social Security Disability claim, call us at (888) 321-8131.