TN 7 (04-17)

DI 25025.025 Vocational Factors Do Not Match a Medical-Vocational Rule

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, 85-15, 83-14, 83-12, 83-11, 83-10, and 82-41.

A. Using borderline age for determinations

Use a rule as a framework for a favorable determination when using the borderline age provisions. See the instructions for “Borderline Age” in DI 25015.006.

B. Unstated assumptions in the medical-vocational guidelines

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.

C. If no applicable rule reflects the claimant’s PRW

If no applicable rule reflects the claimant’s PRW, use the following guidelines to identify the appropriate rule to use as a framework:

Example Number

Claimant’s past relevant work

Use the closest rule indicating

1

unskilled

Skilled or semiskilled, but no transferable skills

2

skilled or semiskilled work experience and no transferable skills

Unskilled

3

skilled or semiskilled work experience and transferable skills

Transferable skills

EXAMPLE 1:

The claimant is 46 years old with a high school education and unskilled PRW with a sedentary RFC. Rule 201.21 is for a younger individual age 45-49 with skilled or semiskilled PRW and no transferable skills. Use rule 201.21 as a framework for a determination since there is no rule for a 46-year-old claimant with a high school education and unskilled PRW.

EXAMPLE 2:

The claimant is a 52-year-old who cannot communicate in English and has semiskilled PRW with skills that do not transfer to other work within his light RFC. Rule 202.09 is for a claimant closely approaching advanced age who is illiterate or unable to communicate in English with unskilled or no PRW. There is no medical-vocational rule for a claimant closely approaching advanced age who is illiterate or unable to communicate in English with semiskilled or skilled work and no transferable skills. Use rule 202.09 as a framework for a determination. Although medical-vocational rule 202.11 appears to fit the situation, the decisional outcome is contrary to regulatory guidance in § 404.1565 and § 416.965 that indicate we treat a claimant who has skilled or semiskilled work experience and no transferable skills the same as an individual with unskilled work experience.

EXAMPLE 3:

The claimant is a 53-year-old who is illiterate and has past relevant work as a skilled ironworker. He is able to use those skills in other work within his light RFC. There is no medical-vocational rule for a claimant with a light RFC who is closely approaching advanced age and who is illiterate or unable to communicate in English with semiskilled or skilled work PRW with transferable skills. Use rule 202.12 as a framework for a determination. Although rule 202.09 suggests that closely approaching advanced age claimants who are illiterate or unable to communicate in English should be found disabled, transferable skills permit the claimant to adjust to other work despite the adversities of his or her vocational factors. See 20 CFR Subpart P, App. 2 201.00(e) and 202.00(e).


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http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0425025025
DI 25025.025 - Vocational Factors Do Not Match a Medical-Vocational Rule - 04/27/2017
Batch run: 07/05/2017
Rev:04/27/2017