When we published the medical-vocational rules, we made assumptions about the combinations
of residual functional capacity (RFC), age, education, and past work experience that
we use when evaluating claimants filing for disability. Some of those assumptions
were that claimants who were illiterate or unable to communicate in English would
not have skilled or semiskilled past relevant work (PRW), and that younger individuals
with a high school education would have skilled or semiskilled PRW.
Because of those assumptions, we have no rules:
for younger individuals (ages 45-49) with a sedentary RFC, high school education,
and unskilled work experience, or
for claimants who are illiterate or unable to communicate in English and have skilled
or semiskilled past work experience and no transferable skills.
However, regulations § 404.1565 and § 416.965 indicate that we treat a claimant who has no transferable skills the same as a claimant
with unskilled PRW. If we used rules for skilled or semiskilled work with no transferable
skills and limited or less education for claimants who are illiterate or unable to
communicate in English, our determination would be inconsistent with the regulations.
In the unusual case in which an illiterate or unable to communicate in English claimant
had transferable skills, the rule for limited or less education and transferable skills
would apply, because transferable skills permit adjustment to other work regardless
of other unfavorable vocational factors.
EXAMPLE: A 47-year-old claimant who is illiterate or unable to communicate in English has
an RFC for sedentary work and skilled or semiskilled PRW with no transferable skills.
Rule 201.17 for a claimant who is illiterate or unable to communicate in English with
unskilled or no PRW indicates a finding of disabled is appropriate. Rule 201.19, which
would apply to a claimant who is 47 years old with a limited or less education and
skilled or semiskilled PRW with no transferable skills indicates a finding of not
disabled is appropriate. Using Rule 201.19 in this case scenario would yield a result
inconsistent with our regulations.