TN 6 (02-15)

DI 25025.015 Using a Rule as a Framework When Exertional Capacity Falls between Two Rules

Citations:

Social Security Act (the Act) §§: 223(d)(2)(A) and 1614(a)(3)(B)

20 CFR §§: Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, 404.1520(f), 404.1560 thru 404.1569(a), 416.920(f), and 416.960 thru 416.969(a)

Social Security Rulings (SSR): 96-9p, 86-8, 85-15, 83-14, 83-12, 83-11, and 83-10

A. How to determine if exertional capacity falls between two rules

1. Lifting/carrying/pushing/pulling requirements

The exertional level table in section DI 25001.001 lists the ranges of weight lifted, carried, pushed, and pulled the Department of Labor used when classifying occupations into the strength categories of very heavy, heavy, medium, light, and sedentary.

In order to use a medical-vocational rule to direct a determination, the claimant must be capable of doing substantially all of the range of work represented by the exertional requirements of the rule. For that reason, assume that an RFC for lifting/carrying/pushing/pulling less than the top level of weight for an exertional level in the exertional level table represents an RFC falling between two exertional levels of work.

2. Standing/walking/sitting requirements

The Medical-Vocational Quick Reference Guide in DI 25001.001 lists the standing, walking, and sitting requirements within the description of the requirements for each exertional level of work.

Assume that an RFC for standing/walking/sitting less than the top level of standing/walking/sitting requirements represents an RFC falling between exertional levels of work.

B. Exertional capacity falls between two “not disabled” rules

If the claimant’s exertional capacity falls between two rules that both result in a determination of not disabled, use the rule from the lower numbered table as a framework for a determination.

EXAMPLE: A 45-year-old claimant with a high school education and unskilled past work experience has an RFC for standing/walking/sitting approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour day, and lifting/carrying/pushing/pulling 25 pounds occasionally and 15 pounds frequently. The RFC falls between the maximum requirements for medium and light work. The RFC falls between rule 202.20 and 203.28. The decision column for both rules indicates a decision of not disabled. Cite rule 202.20 as a framework for a determination and find the claimant not disabled. As long as all other vocational criteria are met for the applicable rules, do not cite jobs since both rules direct a determination of not disabled, establishing a significant number of jobs exist in the national economy at both RFC levels.

C. Exertional capacity falls between two “disabled” rules

If the claimant’s exertional capacity falls between two rules that both result in a determination of disabled, use the rule from the higher numbered table as a framework for a determination.

EXAMPLE: A 55-year-old claimant with a high school education and unskilled past work experience has an RFC for standing/walking/sitting approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour day, and lifting/carrying/pushing/pulling 15 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently. The RFC falls between rule 201.04 and 202.04. The decision column for both rules indicates a decision of disabled. Cite rule 202.04 as a framework for a determination and find the claimant disabled.

D. Exertional capacity falls between rules with different conclusions

Determining whether a claimant is disabled is a more difficult judgment when his or her exertional capacity falls in the middle of two rules and the rules direct opposite conclusions. In this situation apply the:

  • higher-numbered rule and find the claimant not disabled if you conclude the claimant has a slightly reduced capacity for the higher level of exertion; or

  • lower-numbered rule and find the claimant disabled if you conclude the claimant has a significantly reduced capacity for the higher level of exertion.

NOTE: Use the information about the sedentary, light, and medium occupational bases found in the Medical-Vocational Quick Reference Guide in DI 25001.001 to assist you with this adjudicative judgment.

IMPORTANT: Always explain the basis of your conclusions.

If necessary, use the assistance of a Vocational Specialist to determine which rule most closely approximates the claimant’s RFC and vocational factors of age, education, and past work experience.


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http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0425025015
DI 25025.015 - Using a Rule as a Framework When Exertional Capacity Falls between Two Rules - 03/27/2015
Batch run: 03/27/2015
Rev:03/27/2015