Past Relevant Work: Caretaker (domestic service)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at a number of different factors when determining whether a claimant is entitled to Social Security disability benefits. One of those factors is a claimant’s work history. To determine whether a claimant can do his or her past relevant work, SSA evaluates:

  • The claimant’s functional limitations
  • Job requirements for past relevant work
  • Whether given the claimant’s functional limitation he or she can perform those work demands.

The main two categories that SSA uses for classifying jobs is the strength required and the amount of time it would take to learn how to do the job. The first part of a job classification is the strength needed to complete the job. SSA divides this category into sedentary, light, medium, and heavy. For more information on each of these classifications, click here. The second part of a job classification that SSA uses is the amount of time it takes to learn a job. Factors considered include: education, on the job training, experience needed from other jobs, etc. SSA assigns each job a level 1-9, also known as Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP). An SVP of 1 being a job that can be learned very quickly, whereas an SVP of 9 would be a job that would take at least 10 years to learn how to do. Click here for more information on SVP levels.

Knowing one’s past relevant work is very important during the Social Security disability process. If you are unsure about your past relevant work and are getting ready for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge, we highly recommend contacting a Social Security disability lawyer.  He or she will typically ask you about your jobs from the past 15 years and do an in depth analysis of your work history and any other issues that may arise.

Were You A Caretaker In The Last 15 Years?

What if you served as a caretaker? There are a number of different kinds of caretakers, for this example, we are specifically discussing ones in a domestic service setting. The position is considered a medium level job with an SVP of 2 by the Dictionary of Titles.  This means that the typical caretaker frequently lifts around 25 pounds and occasionally lifts up to 50 pounds. Medium work also requires almost constant standing or walking, or kneeling, squatting, bending, climbing. At an SVP of 2, a typical caretaker position can take up to a month to learn.  In general, a caretaker can have a very difficult and physically demanding job. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may have an easier time proving that you are unable to perform your job than other claimant’s who performed sedentary past work.

The Dictionary of Titles provides the following description for a caretaker position:

“Performs any combination of following duties in keeping private home clean and in good condition: Cleans and dusts furnishings, hallways, and lavatories. Beats and vacuums rugs and scrubs them with cleaning solutions. Washes windows and waxes and polishes floors. Removes and hangs draperies. Cleans and oils furnace. Shovels coal into furnace and removes ashes. Replaces light switches and repairs broken screens, latches, or doors. Paints exterior structures, such as fences, garages, and sheds. May drive family car. May mow and rake lawn. May groom and exercise pets. When duties are confined to upkeep of house, may be designated House Worker (domestic ser.).” 

The above paragraph is a description of the common caretaker work requirements. The description does not specifically describe your previous caretaker position. If you applied or were denied Social Security disability benefits and served as a caretaker in the past 15 years you should seek out a Social Security disability attorney for information about your individual needs.  Feel free to contact Social Security Defenders LLC today for a free no obligation consultation.