Attacking VE Testimony on Past Relevant Work

Step four of the Social Security Administration’s sequential evaluation process deals with your client’s residual functional capacity and past relevant work. Though it’s just one step in the sequential evaluation process, the administrative law judge will actually make three smaller determinations as part of this step.

First, does the claimant’s RFC allow him or her to perform work-related activities on a regular and continuing basis? The judge will look at seven tasks: sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling.

Second, what are the physical and mental requirements of the claimant’s past relevant work (the actual requirements of his or her particular job and the requirements of the job as it is normally performed)?

Third, is the claimant able to meet the requirements in part two in spite of the limitations in part one? If the judge concludes that the claimant is able to perform the job duties as he or she actually performed them or as they are generally performed in the national economy, the judge will deny benefits.

If the judge calls a vocational expert who testifies that your client is able to perform past relevant work, you can attack his or her testimony on several points, including duration, recency, and misidentification of past work as past relevant work (a term of art for the SSA). These issues and more are outlined in detail in this section of the website.