BASIC (02-15)

DI 25003.001 Vocational Specialists

Citations:

Social Security Act, as amended §§ 216(i), 223(d)(2)(A), and 1614(a)(3)(B)

20 CFR Part 404 Subpart P, Appendix 2

20 CFR §§ 404.1566 thru 404.1569, and 416.966 thru 416.969

SSR 00-04p

A. Definition of Vocational Specialist (VS)

A vocational specialist is an individual with specialized knowledge and experience who serves as a vocational resource for a state Disability Determination Service (DDS) or federal adjudicating unit.

The adjudicating unit may have a dedicated VS, or designate another individual or individuals, such as a:

  • quality reviewer,

  • senior disability examiner, or

  • other appropriately qualified personnel to perform the VS role.

The VS:

  • ensures consideration of the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment with vocational factors such as age, education, training, and work experience; and

  • trains and mentors staff on vocational issues.

B. Vocational review issues

Vocational review issues include, but are not limited to:

  • ability to perform work within assessed Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)/Mental Residual Functional Capacity (MRFC) limitations;

  • relevancy of past work;

  • identification of job skills and duties;

  • identifying the claimant’s past occupation in the national economy;

  • transferability of skills;

  • application of borderline age;

  • onset and ending dates as it relates to the vocational assessment;

  • sufficiency of the vocational evidence in file;

  • special medical-vocational profiles;

  • illiteracy or inability to communicate in English; and

  • estimating the remaining occupational base.

C. When to use a VS

Consult a VS when:

  • a vocational issue is beyond your level of expertise; and

  • you do not have a clear understanding of the effects of limitations on the claimant’s remaining occupational base.

1. Disability examiner (DE) development prior to VS consultation

DEs have sufficient expertise to assess the vast majority of vocational issues; and, must complete the initial vocational development prior to consulting the VS. This includes obtaining a complete 15-year work history, and attempting to resolve Steps 4 and 5 of sequential evaluation.

2. VS consultation

Examples of complex vocational issues that may require VS consultation include:

  1. Determinations made in the 8th Circuit under the Brock AR – AR 14-1(8). (See details on Brock AR per, DI 25003.001D, in this section.)

  2. Determining skills acquired from a job and whether those skills are transferable. (SSR 82-41).

  3. Determining the functional demands and job duties of the job as ordinarily required by employers throughout the national economy. (SSR 82-61).

  4. Considering the remaining occupational base for a case where the claimant has an:

    • RFC that represents a compromised range of sedentary work. (SSR 83-12, SSR 83-14, SSR 96-9p).

    • RFC between two levels of exertion. (SSR 83-14).

    • RFC limitation of ability to sit or stand that falls between exertional levels. (