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THE FOURTH STEP – Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process – Past Relevant Work (PRW)

Please see our prior written and video blog posts on Step 1 and Step 3 of the five step Sequential Evaluation Process (SEP).

Step 4 of the Sequential Evaluation Process

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will proceed to step 4 of the five step SEP if the claimant is determined to (1) meet the step 1 “not engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA)” requirement; and (2) has a “severe impairment” under the step 2 definition which does not meet or equal a listed impairment requiring a step 3 allowance.

Assessing Residual Functional Capacity

Specifically, under step 4, SSA first assesses a claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC) – his or her remaining ability to perform mental and physical work activities despite all impairments. SSA then determines if the claimant has the required RFC to perform PRW. Remember, step 4 is only reached if the claimant has a severe impairment and a determination based on work activity or on medical facts alone cannot be made.

Past Relevant Work (PRW) Consideration

Generally, PRW will include all jobs that the claimant has performed within the last 15 years if those jobs were performed at SGA level and lasted long enough to be learned completely. An individual who has worked only sporadically or for brief periods during the 15 year period may be considered to have no PRW.

In ruling on the step 4 PRW question, SSA will consider and decide if the claimant has the RFC to perform prior jobs as those jobs are generally performed in the national economy, or as performed specifically by the claimant where different.

Determination Based on PRW

If the claimant has PRW that is within his or her RFC, the claim will be denied. If the evidence supports a finding that the claimant cannot do PRW, the disability determination proceeds to step 5.

How Green & Greenberg Can Help

At Green & Greenberg we know how to prove to SSA that your impairments, even if not of Listing level severity, compromise your RFC and leave you with an inability to perform PRW. Call us at 401-331-8989 to get your claim started right away.