BASIC (07-00)

DI 25015.015 Work Experience as a Vocational Factor

A. POLICY

1. Work Experience

Is considered (in determinations of capacity to perform other work) by evaluating whether any skills were obtained from the performance of past relevant work (PRW) and, if so, whether such skills are transferable to other work that falls within the individual's residual functional capacity. (See DI 25001.001 for definition of work experience.)

2. Skills

  1. Acquired from work may or may not be commensurate with a person's educational attainment. (See DI 25001.001 for definition of skill.)

  2. Are not obtained from doing unskilled work.

  3. When a person's acquired skills are not transferable, he or she is considered to be capable of adjusting to only unskilled work.

  4. Persons who possess transferable skills generally have a special advantage over unskilled workers in the labor market.

3. Transferability

  1. Is only meaningful when a person has the functional capability to perform the jobs/occupations to which his or her skills are transferable. (See DI 25001.001 for definition of transferability.)

  2. Is most probable and meaningful among jobs in which:

    • the same or a lesser degree of skill is required, because people are not expected to do more complex jobs than they actually performed;

    • the same or similar tools and machines are used; and

    • the same or similar raw materials, production, processes or services are involved.

      A complete similarity of all these factors is not necessary. There are degrees of similarity ranging from very close similarities to remote and incidental similarities among jobs.

  3. The greater the degree of acquired work skills, the less difficulty an individual will experience in transferring skills to other jobs (except when the skills are such that they are not readily usable in other industries, jobs or work settings).

  4. When jobs have universal applicability across industry lines (e.g., clerical, professional, administrative, or managerial types of jobs), transferability of skills to industries differing from past work experience can usually be accomplished with very little, if any, vocational adjustment.

  5. Skills that are unique to a specific work process in a particular industry or work setting are not transferable if more than a minimal vocational adjustment in terms of tools used, work process, work setting, or industry is required.

  6. Skills acquired in such an isolated vocational setting (e.g., like many jobs in mining, agriculture, or fishing) that they are not readily usable in other industries, jobs, and work settings, are not considered to be transferable.

  7. If an individual is of advanced age (age 55 or older), and has a severe impairment(s) that limits him or her to sedentary or light work, we will find that the individual cannot make an adjustment to other work unless he or she has skills that can transfer to other skilled or semiskilled work (or if the individual has recently completed education which provides for direct entry into skilled work) that the individual can do despite his or her impairment(s). We will decide if an individual has transferable skills as follows.

    • If an individual is of advanced age and has a severe impairment(s) that limits him or her to no more than sedentary work, we will find that the individual has skills that are transferable to skilled or semiskilled sedentary work only if the sedentary work is so similar to the individual's previous work that he or she would need to make very little, if any, vocational adjustment in terms of tools, work processes, work settings, or the industry. See DI 25001.001B.69. and Rule 201.00(f) in DI 25025.005.

    • If an individual is of advanced age but has not attained age 60, and has a severe impairment(s) that limits him or her to no more than light work, we will apply the rules in DI 25015.015A.3.a. - DI 25015.015A.3.f. to decide if the individual has skills that are transferable to skilled or semiskilled light work. (See DI 25001.001B.44.)

    • If an individual is closely approaching retirement age (60 or older) and has a severe impairment(s) that limits him or her to no more than light work, we will find that the individual has skills that are transferable to skilled or semiskilled light work only if the light work is so similar to the individual's previous work that he or she would need to make very little, if any vocational adjustment in terms of tools, work processes, work settings, or the industry. (See 25001.001B.44 and Rule 202.00(f) in DI 25025.005.)

4. Training

  1. May be vocationally significant if it prepares an individual to do a specific job or provides background to do a number of jobs in the same field. (See DI 25001.001 for definition of training.)

  2. Content, duration, and recency must be considered in determining the scope and application of training and its current usefulness.

  3. Recently completed training may provide direct entry to a semiskilled or skilled job, but usually only at the apprenticeship or lowest level for that occupation.

  4. Generally, training that was completed more than 15 years ago and was not used in a claimant's PRW, should not be considered as improving a person's current vocational outlook.

B. PROCEDURE

1. Determining Skill Level of PRW

a. Job Corresponds to Dictionary of Occupational Titles' (DOT) Occupational Title

  • Look up the occupation's specific vocational preparation (SVP) rating in the Selected Characteristics of Occupations (SCO).

  • Consider the occupation to be unskilled if the SVP rating is 1 or 2.

  • Consider the occupation to be semiskilled if the SVP rating is 3 or 4.

  • Consider the occupation to be skilled if the SVP rating is 5 or above.

CAUTION: The DOT occupational title of an individual's PRW may be different from the job title listed by the individual. The DOT occupational title (if one exists) is determined from the description of the job duties/activities described by the individual (or an employer, coworker or family member, should the individual be unable to provide a sufficient description). The job duties/activities, not the job title given by the individual, are determinative.

b. Job Does Not Correspond To a DOT Occupational Description

  • Compare the job duties/activities with the definitions of skilled, semiskilled and unskilled in DI 25001.001 and with the SVP timeframes listed in the SCO.

  • Consider a job as unskilled if its SVP time is determined to be from 0 to 30 days.

  • Consider a job semiskilled if its SVP time is determined to be from 30 days to 6 months.

  • Consider a job skilled if its SVP time is determined to be more than 6 months.

NOTE: It may be helpful in making this determination to look at SVP ratings for DOT occupational titles that, while not corresponding to the PRW described by the individual, contain duties/activities similar (in terms of skill level) to those that he or she performed.

c. Vocational Specialist (VS) Assistance

VS assistance may be requested, if needed.

2. Documenting Decisions

List the details, analysis, findings and conclusions leading to the decision of ability to perform other work on an SSA-5002 or case summary sheet. However, if a VS has been consulted, this information should be included in the VS's analysis.

3. Documenting Findings-Transferability

a. Recording Findings

Record all findings on transferability of skills on an SSA-5002 or case summary sheet. However, if a VS has been consulted, this information should be included in the VS analysis.

b. Transferability Not Material

State that the issue of transferability is not being addressed at this time because it is not material to the final decision of “disabled” or “not disabled.”

c. Skills are Not Transferable

State that the claimant does not have transferable skills.

d. Skills are Transferable

  • List the acquired work skills that are transferable.

  • Cite the occupations to which the skills are transferable with an affirmative statement (based on County Business Patterns, census records or other data) that such jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy.

NOTE: Cite a minimum of three occupations, the corresponding Social Security Ruling (SSR), or the findings of the VS assessment.


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DI 25015.015 - Work Experience as a Vocational Factor - 02/26/2016
Batch run: 02/26/2016
Rev:02/26/2016