What is Past Relevant Work (PRW)?

by Editorial Board on December 10, 2010 · 0 comments

in Past Relevant Work (Step 4),Your Limitations,Legal Concepts in SSD,Vocational or Work Issues,Why People Are Denied

If SSA decides you do not meet a listing, then your case proceeds on to step four of the five-step disability evaluation process.  At step four Social Security considers whether you can return to your Past Relevant Work, or “PRW” for short.

Social Security will ask you for details about your past work at the very beginning of your case.  Those questions may seem simple enough, but they aren’t.  Social Security will look closely at your answers at every stage of your case.  Make sure that your answers are completely accurate.  Don’t overstate your job responsibilities or your authority over other workers.  The more skilled your work was the harder it will be to win your case.

Social Security has a three-part test for what work is considered Past Relevant Work.  Your past jobs must meet each of the three requirements to be considered PRW.  First, you must have done the work in the past 15 years.  This simple rule applies in all cases unless you have an expired Date Last Insured.

Your past work is not PRW unless it was “Substantial Gainful Activity”.  This means that your gross earnings from the job were under the amount set by Social Security.  In 2010 that amount was $1,000 per month.

Finally, your past work is not PRW unless it lasted long enough for you to learn how to do it.  Jobs that lasted less than three months are rarely considered PRW.  Of course, more complex jobs take longer to learn.  Disability judges rely on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, a Labor Department job survey, for an estimate of how long it should have taken you to learn your past work.

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