Identification Number:
DI 25015 TN 11
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:ORDP ODP
Title:Ability to Perform Other Work
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:Disability
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part DI – Disability Insurance
Chapter 250 – Medical-Vocational Evaluation
Subchapter 15 – Ability to Perform Other Work
Transmittal No. 11, 06/26/2020

Audience

PSC: DE, DEC;
OCO-OEIO: CR, ERE, FDE, RECONE;
OCO-ODO: DE, DEC, DS, RECONE;
ODD-DDS: ADJ, DHU;

Originating Component

ODP

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

On February 25, 2020, the final rule “Removing Inability to Communicate in English as an Education Category” was published. Under the new rules, we classify a claimant's level of education into one of the four remaining categories: (1) Illiteracy, (2) Marginal Education, (3) Limited Education, and (4) High School Education and Above. To provide guidance on assessing a claimant's education using the four remaining categories, we issued the Social Security Ruling 20-01p, "How We Determine an Individual's Education Category.” We updated the affected POMS sections to reflect the changes in the regulation and the guidance provided in SSR 20-01p.

Summary of Changes

DI 25015.006 Borderline Age

Under subsection E.1.b., we removed all reference to "unable to communicate in English" and "able to communicate in English." We removed the "NOTE" referencing AR 86-3.

 

DI 25015.017 Transferability of Skills Assessment (TSA)

Under subsection D.2., second bullet point, we removed "or unable to communicate in English." We replaced "reading, or language skills" with "literacy." We deleted the content dealing with Q & A 08-049 and the content labeled "IMPORTANT."

Under section K, we deleted the content dealing with Q & A 08-049.

Conversion Table
Old POMS ReferenceNew POMS Reference
DI 25015.006DI 25015.006
DI 25015.017DI 25015.017

DI 25015.006 Borderline Age

CITATIONS:

20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963 — (Your age as a vocational factor.), and Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, Sections 201, 202, 203, and 204 — (Medical-Vocational Guidelines)

A. Borderline age policy

If a claimant is within a few days to a few months of reaching a higher age category and using the chronological age results in a denial, consider using the higher age category if it results in a favorable determination, after you evaluate all factors (residual functional capacity (RFC), age, education, and work experience) of the claim.

IMPORTANT: If using the claimant’s chronological age results in a partially or fully favorable determination, only consider the claimant’s chronological age. This is not a borderline age situation.

B. What we mean by “within a few days to a few months”

We do not have a more precise programmatic definition for the phrase “within a few days to a few months.” We define the term “a few” using its ordinary meaning, a small number. Consider a few days to a few months to mean a period not to exceed six months.

C. Identifying a borderline age situation

When you evaluate a claimant’s ability to adjust to other work, a borderline age situation exists if:

  1. 1. 

    The claimant reached or will reach the next higher age category within a few days to a few months after the:

    • date of adjudication;

    • date the Title II insured status expired (date last insured);

    • end of disabled widow(er)’s benefit (DWB) prescribed period;

    • end of childhood disability benefit (CDB) reentitlement period; or

    • cessation of disability; and

  2. 2. 

    Both of the following are true:

    • Using the claimant’s chronological age results in a not disabled determination; and

    • Using the next higher age category to adjudicate the borderline period results in a disabled determination.

IMPORTANT: If you cannot establish all of these requirements, you do not have a borderline age situation. Use the claimant’s chronological age to adjudicate the claim.

Consider borderline age in all situations where age is a factor in the determination of disability such as:

  • prior to expediting step 5 of the vocational assessment;

  • when doing a transferability of skills assessment; or

  • when considering use of the “No Work” or “Lifetime Commitment” special medical-vocational profiles (For further information on the special medical-vocational profiles, see DI 25010.001).

D. Examples to identify a borderline age situation

EXAMPLE 1:

The claimant filed a concurrent claim for Title II and Title XVI benefits. He was 50 years old when he applied, but was two months shy of age 50 when his Title II insured status expired. He has an eighth grade education and can no longer do his unskilled past relevant work (PRW). The claimant is limited to sedentary work and medical-vocational rule 201.09 directs a finding of disabled at age 50.

The Title II claim presents a borderline age situation. Considering age mechanically, using the claimant’s chronological age on the date his insured status expired under medical-vocational rule 201.18, results in a denial. The claimant attained an age that changes the outcome of the decision to an allowance (medical-vocational rule 201.09) within a few days to a few months after his insured status expired. Although, the Title XVI claim is already an allowance and, therefore, does not present a borderline age issue, enter the Title II established onset date (EOD) for the Title XVI claim per DI 25501.370A.2.

NOTE: For the majority of concurrent claims, follow existing policy regarding establishing onset in concurrent claims and enter the Title II EOD for the Title XVI claim. For an exception to this rule, see details in the third bullet of DI 25501.370A.2.

EXAMPLE 2:

The claimant is age 51 at adjudication. She has semi-skilled PRW at the medium level of exertion with no transferable skills and her RFC limits her to no more than sedentary work. She has a 12th grade education with no direct entry (i.e., she has not recently completed education or training that provides for direct entry into skilled or semiskilled work). Medical-vocational rule 201.14 directs a finding of disabled as of age 50. The representative asks to apply the medical-vocational rules non-mechanically and find the claimant disabled six months prior to age 50.

This is not a borderline age situation because the claim is not a denial when applying the age categories mechanically.

E. Decide which age category to use in a borderline age situation

IMPORTANT: Do not use the higher age category automatically in a borderline age situation.

Consider the criteria for both of the medical-vocational rules for the claimant’s chronological age and the next higher age category. Reexamine the overall impact of all the factors of the case on the claimant’s ability to adjust to other work. Begin by analyzing factors of the case.

1. Analyze the factors of the case

a. Period to consider for borderline age

Look at the period under review. For example, the period may be “a few days to a few months” between the date of adjudication and the date the claimant attains age 55. For our definition of “a few days to a few months,” see DI 25015.006B.

NOTE: The closer the claimant is to the next higher age category (older), the more disadvantageous the claimant’s age.

b. Consider education for borderline age

Education below the high school level may be vocationally disadvantageous.

Use the chart in this subsection to look at the claimant’s education within the range of education criteria for the higher age category rule:

If the education category is:

Relative vocational benefit ranges

From lowest educational attainment within the range

(most adverse)

To highest educational attainment within the range

(not adverse)

Limited or less but literate

No formal education but literate

11th grade

Limited or less

Illiterate, regardless of formal educational attainment

11th grade

Marginal or less

Illiterate, regardless of formal educational attainment

Sixth grade

Be careful not to double weigh education.

Examples of double weighing:

  • Using the education factor to support an allowance if the claimant is “Illiterate,” the chronological age medical-vocational rule(s) requires the education category “Illiterate,” and the case presents a borderline age situation. This situation only occurs when the chronological age medical-vocational rule is 202.16 or 201.23.

  • Do not reconsider issues such as special education, home schooling, and possession of a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) as a support to use the higher age category in a borderline age situation because we consider the issue of whether the claimant’s actual education level is consistent with his or her reported years of education, before determining what medical-vocational rule(s) applies.

Examples of when education may support using the higher age category:

EXAMPLE 1:

We find a claimant who is 54 years, 9 months of age on the date of adjudication (or on the date his insured status expired), with a light RFC, unskilled medium work experience, and a fifth grade education disabled under medical-vocational rule 202.01 at attainment of age 55. The rule requires limited or less education (11th grade or less). The adjudicator considers whether education may be more vocationally adverse if the claimant has an education at the lower end of the rule continuum. If so, this is a borderline age situation and the adjudicator finds the claimant disabled as of the date of adjudication (or on the date his insured status expired) when his age was 54 years and 9 months.

EXAMPLE 2:

A claimant who is illiterate, has a sedentary RFC, and is 44 years and 9 months old on the date of adjudication is not disabled under medical-vocational rule 201.23 based on his chronological age. The applicable rule for the higher age category, rule 201.17, directs a finding of disabled, but that rule already considers illiteracy. In this situation, there must be a factor(s) other than illiteracy to justify use of the higher age category.

c. Consider past relevant work (PRW) for borderline age

Look at the claimant’s actual PRW within the past work experience requirements of both the chronological age rule and higher age rule.

When considering PRW for borderline age, consider:

  • If the PRW category for both rules is “unskilled or none,” consider the factor more vocationally adverse if the claimant had no work history or a minimal unskilled work history than if the claimant had a long continuous history of unskilled work.

  • If the claimant has PRW from many years ago, but is within the 15-year period, that factor is more vocationally adverse than PRW that ended in the recent past.

  • If the claimant’s only PRW was in an isolated industry, such as forestry, fishing, or mining, that factor is more vocationally adverse than PRW that exists in many areas or that uses common processes.

EXAMPLE of isolated industry:

A claimant aged 54 years and 11 months with a 10th grade education, a light RFC, and past medium skilled work with no transferable skills meets medical-vocational rule 202.02 at attainment of age 55. The claimant’s PRW was as a salmon fisherman, which is considered a job in an isolated industry. Consider this work as more vocationally adverse than work that exists in many areas or that uses common processes.

d. Consider residual functional capacity (RFC) for borderline age

If the claimant’s RFC limitations adversely affect his or her (unskilled) occupational base, but do not substantially erode it, consider the limitations in the borderline age analysis. Our Social Security Rulings (SSR) provide authoritative information about the impact of certain RFC limitations on the unskilled occupational base. For a summary of RFC considerations for borderline age, see the Office of Disability Policy desk guide for Citing a Social Security Ruling (SSR) at Step 5.

If the occupational base erosion is substantial, be careful to select the correct medical-vocational rule. Do not use RFC to support the borderline age analysis when the occupational base erosion is substantial because that is double weighing.

EXAMPLE of double weighing:

A claimant is 54 years, 7 months of age. He has a 12th grade education, with no transferable skills and is no longer able to do his PRW. He has a medium RFC with occasional crouching. In this case, we find that a limitation to only occasional crouching significantly erodes the occupational base of medium work, so we use a light rule as a framework for the determination. Medical-vocational rule 202.14 (closely approaching advanced age) results in a finding of “Not disabled,” while medical-vocational rule 202.06 (advanced age) results in a finding of “Disabled.” The claimant is within a few days to a few months of attaining a higher age category; therefore, consider whether to use the claimant’s chronological age or the next higher age category. Do not use the RFC limitations of only occasional crouching to support use of the higher age category because we considered the effect of occasional crouching on the medium occupational base when we determined that a light rule applied as a framework for our determination. If we use the RFC limitations of only occasional crouching in this example to support use of a higher age category, it is double weighing.

EXAMPLE that is not double weighing:

A claimant is 54 years, 11 months of age. He has a 12th grade education with unskilled PRW and no direct entry into skilled or semiskilled work. He cannot perform his PRW. He has a light RFC with restricted overhead reaching. Medical-vocational rule 202.13 (closely approaching advanced age) denies, while medical-vocational rule 202.04 (advanced age) allows. The claimant is within a few days to a few months of attaining a higher age category; therefore, consider whether to use the claimant’s chronological age or the next higher age category. In this case, the additional limitation in overhead reaching does not significantly erode the light occupational base. The overhead reaching limitation affects the light occupational base, but it does not significantly erode the light base so that a sedentary rule applies as a framework. Use this RFC limitation to support an allowance under the borderline age criteria without double weighing.

Next, look at the impact of the factors.

2. Determine whether the overall impact of the factors justifies using the higher age category to find the claimant “disabled”

Consider the period for borderline age in conjunction with the claimant’s RFC, age, education, and work experience, as explained in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2 (Medical-Vocational Guidelines).

Take a “sliding scale” approach. To support use of the higher age category, the factors of the case must show a progressively more adverse impact on the claimant’s ability to adjust to other work as the period between the claimant's actual age and his or her attainment of the next higher age category lengthens.

If the factors of the case:

  • support using the next higher age category, find the claimant disabled. For established onset date (EOD) instructions in borderline age allowance determinations and decisions, see DI 25501.410.

  • do not support using the higher age category, use the age category corresponding to the claimant’s chronological age, even if the period is only a few days, find the claimant not disabled.

Do not allow a claim using the Special Medical-Vocational Profiles or Medical-Vocational Guidelines unless you first make a finding of fact about step 4 of the sequential evaluation process.

For details on Expedited Vocational Assessment at Steps 4 and 5 of Sequential Evaluation, see DI 25005.005.

IMPORTANT: Do not double weigh any factors of the case. You must consider and evaluate the overall impact of all of the factors of the case.

F. Examples of factors that may impact the case

This subsection provides examples of case factor combinations that could support use of the higher age category in a borderline age situation.

EXAMPLE 1:

The claimant was 54 years, 10 months old on the date his Title II insured status expired (or the date of adjudication or the date the DWB prescribed period or CDB reentitlement period ended), has a light RFC, an 8th grade education, and no transferable skills from his semiskilled PRW that ended 10 years ago (medical-vocational rule 202.11 denies and medical-vocational rule 202.02 allows).

EXAMPLE 2:

The claimant is 49 years, 11 months old, has a sedentary RFC, a fifth grade education, and unskilled PRW (medical-vocational rule 201.18 denies and medical-vocational rule 201.09 allows).

EXAMPLE 3:

The claimant is 54 years 6 months old, has a medium RFC, 4th grade education, and no PRW (medical-vocational rule 203.18 denies and medical-vocational rule 203.10 allows).

G. Document consideration of borderline age

Document how you considered borderline age whether you allow or deny the claim:

  • Explain your decision to use the next higher age category or your decision to use the claimant’s chronological age, including the case-specific supporting factors.

  • In the Electronic Claims Analysis Tool (eCAT), put the explanation in the text box found in the Borderline Age section of the Past Relevant or Other Work page(s). If you are not using eCAT, document how you considered the borderline age issue and place it in the E (blue) section (Disability Development and Documentation) of the electronic or paper modular disability folder.

H. References

  • DI 25003.001 Vocational Specialists

  • DI 25005.005 Expedited Vocational Assessment at Steps 4 and 5 of Sequential Evaluation

  • DI 25010.001 Special Medical-Vocational Profiles

  • DI 25015.010 Education as a Vocational Factor

  • DI 25015.015 Work Experience as a Vocational Factor

  • DI 25015.017 Transferability of Skills Assessment (TSA)

  • DI 25020.000 Functional Limitations and Their Effects on Ranges of Work - Table of Contents

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

  • DI 25025.020 Applying the Medical-Vocational Rules When the Claimant has Exertional and Nonexertional Limitations

  • DI 25501.410 Established Onset Date (EOD) and Borderline Age

  • DI 26530.015 Personalized Disability Explanation in Initial Closed Period and Unfavorable Onset Date Allowances

DI 25015.017 Transferability of Skills Assessment (TSA)

CITATIONS:

Social Security Act §§ 223(d)(2)(A) and 1614(a)(3)(B);
20 CFR §§ 404.1568 and 416.968;
SSR 82-41

A. Transferability is material to the determination

There are 33 medical-vocational rules where transferability makes a decisional difference:

  • 14 when the residual functional capacity (RFC) is light, and

  • 19 when the RFC is sedentary.

NOTE: For the complete medical-vocational guidelines see, DI 25025.035. For information on which rule to use when a TSA is not material, see DI 25025.022.

IMPORTANT: If you are not adjudicating using one of these 33 rules to direct a decision or as a framework, or if you are using medical-vocational rule 203.01 as a framework because the claimant has skilled or semiskilled PRW, the TSA is not material.

                                             Vocational rules where transferability is material

Age

Education

Previous work
experience

Decision

Advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Disabled

Advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Advanced age

High school graduate or more - does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Disabled

Advanced age

High school graduate or more - does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Advanced age

High school graduate or more - provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more - does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more - does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more - provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual age 45-49

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable.

Not disabled

Younger individual age 45-49

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual age 45-49

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable.

Not disabled

Younger individual age 45-49

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled-skills transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual age 18-44

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual age 18-44

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual age 18-44

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual age 18-44

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Disabled

Advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Advanced age

High school graduate or more - does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Disabled

Advanced age

High school graduate or more - does not provide for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Advanced age

High school graduate or more - provides for direct entry into skilled work

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Closely approaching advanced age

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual

Limited or less

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled - skills not transferable

Not disabled

Younger individual

High school graduate or more

Skilled or semiskilled - skills transferable

Not disabled

B. Transferability issues

Transferability of skills is an issue when all four of the following are true:

  1. 1. 

    Transferability is material to the determination;

  2. 2. 

    The individual’s residual functional capacity (RFC) or mental residual functional capacity (MRFC) prevent the performance of past relevant work (PRW);

  3. 3. 

    PRW has been determined to be skilled or semiskilled; and

  4. 4. 

    The claimant does not have a mental impairment that prevents him or her from doing skilled and semiskilled work.

C. TSA Definitions

1. What is a skill?

Per SSR 82-41, a skill is knowledge of a work activity which requires the exercise of significant judgment that goes beyond the carrying out of simple job duties and is acquired through performance of an occupation which is above the unskilled level (requires more than 30 days to learn).

It is practical and familiar knowledge of the principles and processes of an art, science or trade, combined with the ability to apply them in practice in a proper and approved manner. This includes activities like making precise measurements, reading blueprints, and setting up and operating complex machinery. Having a skill gives a person a special advantage over unskilled workers in the labor market.

2. A person with no transferable skills is equivalent to an unskilled worker

A person does not gain skills doing unskilled jobs. A person who performed skilled or semi-skilled PRW has no advantage over an unskilled worker if he or she can qualify only for an unskilled job due to lack of transferability. The table rules in Appendix 2 are consistent with the provisions regarding skills because they direct the same conclusion for individuals with an unskilled work background as they do for those with a skilled or semi-skilled work background whose skills are not transferable.

Although a Dictionary of Occupational Titles’ specific vocational preparation (SVP) rating may include some consideration of education, a person's acquired work skills may or may not be equal with his or her formal educational attainment. For the definition of SVP, see DI 25001.001A.77.

                                                                                         Examples

Skills

Unskilled Tasks

  • Answering a multi-line telephone (PBX)

  • Assembling equipment or complex objects

  • Handling large amounts of money or keeping a money drawer balanced using computers

  • Answering a standard telephone, operating a two-way radio or intercom

  • Basic driving ability

  • Filing papers

  • Greeting customers

  • Basic food preparation

  • Performing routine money handling tasks

3. Definition of transferable skills

An individual has transferable skills when the skilled or semi-skilled job functions he or she has performed in his or her PRW can be used to meet the requirements of other work within his or her RFC. You must consider all functional limitations included in the RFC when considering transferability. For a description of relevant past work, see DI 25005.015.

Transferability is different from using skills recently learned in school or other formal educational settings that may serve as a basis for direct entry into skilled work. We cannot consider education in a transferability of skills determination.

We do not expect people to be able to adjust to other work in jobs that are more complex than the ones they have actually performed.

A person’s skills are most likely to transfer between jobs of the same or lower skill level; and, which use the same or similar:

  • tools;

  • machines;

  • raw materials;

  • products;

  • processes; or

  • services. 

NOTE: An absolute similarity of all of these factors is not necessary.

4. What is unskilled work?

Unskilled work requires little or no judgment to do simple duties that can be learned on the job in a short period of time (30 days or less).

NOTE: Unskilled work generally has an SVP of 1 or 2.

5. What is semiskilled work?

Semiskilled occupations are more complex than unskilled work and distinctly simpler than the more highly skilled types of jobs. They contain more variables and require more judgment than unskilled occupations. Even though semiskilled occupations require more than 30 days to learn, the content of work activities in some semiskilled jobs may be little more than unskilled. Therefore, pay close attention to the actual complexities of the job tasks required to perform the work.

The definition of semiskilled work is found in DI 25001.001A.69. Per 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1568(b) and 416.968(b), semiskilled jobs "may require alertness and close attention ... coordination and dexterity ... as when hands or feet must be moved quickly to do repetitive tasks." These descriptive terms are not intended to illustrate types of skills in and of themselves. The terms describe worker traits (aptitudes or abilities) rather than acquired work skills.

NOTE: Semiskilled work generally has a SVP of 3 or 4.

6. What is skilled work?

The definition of skilled work is found in DI 25001.001A.75. Skilled work:

  • Requires high levels of judgment and adaptability;

  • Involves setting realistic goals or making plans independently;

  • Requires understanding, carrying out, remembering complex instructions;

  • Encompasses abstract ideas and problem solving; and

  • Has an SVP of 5 to 9 as rated in the SCO.

Skilled job functions require both:

  • work activity exercising judgment beyond carrying out simple duties; and

  • knowledge of principles and processes of an art, science, or applied trade and the ability to apply that knowledge in a proper and approved manner.

NOTE: Skilled work generally has an SVP of 5 to 9.

D. What is the effect of age, education, and RFC on transferability?

The likelihood of transferability decreases as the claimant’s age increases. However, a claimant can never be found disabled if skills are transferable to other work within his or her RFC.

1. Age and other work

In order to find that skills are transferable in other work, claimants in the following age groups would have to make very little, if any, vocational adjustment in terms of tools, work processes, or industry:

  • age 55 or older with a sedentary remaining occupational base; or

  • age 60 or older with a light remaining occupational base.

2. Age and education

Transferable skills always outweigh age and education:

  • Regardless of age or education level, if skills are transferable to other work, always find the claimant not disabled at step 5; and

  • Transferable skills for claimants who are illiterate are rare. Skills that are not dependent on literacy may transfer to other work within the claimant’s RFC.

E. When is a TSA material?

The TSA is material when all of the following conditions apply:

  • PRW was at the skilled or semi-skilled level. SKILLS CAN NEVER TRANSFER TO UNSKILLED WORK;

  • The impairment does not prevent the use of acquired skills;

  • The RFC and MRFC do not preclude other skilled or semi-skilled work; and

  • The applicable “skills not transferable” rule results in a decision of “disabled.”

F. What if the TSA is not material?

If the TSA is not material, use the applicable “not transferable” rule as a framework for the decision, per DI 25025.022; and, document the file accordingly. SKILLS CAN NEVER TRANSFER TO UNSKILLED WORK.

G. Before beginning the TSA

Before beginning the TSA, make sure all of the following are true:

  • Transferability is material to the disability determination;

  • The claimant has semi-skilled or skilled PRW;

  • The claimant’s RFC or MRFC does not prevent him or her from using his or her skill(s) in other work; and

  • The claimant’s description of PRW provides enough detail to perform a TSA.

H. Documenting the TSA

As described in SSR 82-41(6) Findings of fact in determinations or decisions involving transferability of skills, When the issue of skills and their transferability must be decided, the adjudicator or ALJ is required to make certain findings of fact and include them in the written decision. Findings should be supported with appropriate documentation.” It is important that these findings be made at all levels of adjudication to clearly establish the basis for the determination or decision for the claimant and for a reviewing body including a Federal district court.

When you make a finding that the claimant has transferable skills, the acquired work skills must be identified, and specific occupations to which the acquired work skills are transferable must be cited in your determination. Evidence that these specific skilled or semiskilled jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy should be included (the regulations take administrative notice only of the existence of unskilled sedentary, light, and medium jobs in the national economy).

This evidence may include statements by a Vocational Specialist (VS) based on expert personal knowledge or substantiation by information contained in the publications listed in regulations sections 404.1566(d) and 416.966(d).

Document each step in the Disability Determination Explanation (DDE) section of the electronic Claims Analysis Tool (eCAT) — e.g. Vocational Explanation Claim Communications, Vocational Explanation textbox.

EXCEPTION: For eCAT exclusions, document using Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact), or the Case Development Summary Worksheet as described in DI 20503.001.

I. Steps in the TSA

Take the following steps to complete the TSA:

Step 1 – Review the claimant’s job description, but do not rely solely upon the title. Note the processes, tools, machines, and materials used and the products or services that result from the claimant’s efforts. Identify skills that may be useable in other work.

Social Security Ruling 82-41 states that “[t]he claimant is in the best position to describe just what he or she did in PRW, how it was done, what exertion was involved, what skilled or semiskilled work activities were involved, etc. Neither an occupational title by itself nor a skeleton description is sufficient.”

Use the claimant’s own job description to determine what skills have been acquired.

Step 2 – Identify the claimant’s PRW in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to make a judgment about the level of skills the claimant may have gained. If the job description is inadequate at Step 4, the TSA will be wrong.

Step 3 – Review the claimant’s vocational factors (skill level of past work, applicability of skill, RFC, and age) to get an idea of how extensive a search you should make for other potential occupations.

Step 4 – Search for occupations related to the claimant’s PRW using the same or similar:

  • guide for occupational exploration (GOE) code;

  • materials, products, subject matter, and services (MPSMS) code;

  • work field (WF) code;

  • occupation group (first three digits of DOT code); or

  • industry designation.

Step 5 – Make a list of possible occupations, excluding any occupations that are unskilled, at an SVP higher than the claimant’s PRW, or that are not within the claimant’s RFC.

Step 6 – Compare the DOT description of duties of each of the occupations on your list with PRW duties (including composite jobs) described by the claimant.

Step 7 – Consider all relevant vocational sources and make a judgment about whether skills gained in PRW are useable in other work within the claimant’s RFC or MRFC.

Step 8 – Support your decision. If you determine skills are not transferable, briefly describe the extent of your search. If you determine skills are transferable, identify both:

  • the transferable skills; and

  • the occupations to which the acquired work skills are transferable.

    IMPORTANT: You generally must cite at least three occupations when documenting capacity for other types of work. However, you may cite fewer than three if the occupation(s) provide enough jobs that clearly there are a significant number of jobs in the national economy within the cited occupation(s). This evidence may be VS statements based on expert personal knowledge or substantiation by information contained in the publications listed in regulations sections 404.1566(d) and 416.966(d).

J. Additional tips to assist in the TSA

Skills are likely to transfer from the following:

  • highly skilled occupations;

  • occupations consisting of many separate tasks; or

  • occupations with skills applicable across a number of industries.

Skills are unlikely to transfer from the following:

  • highly specialized or technical work, and

  • work in isolated vocational settings.

1. Where to look for transferable skills

a. Only consider skills demonstrated in PRW

Skills that the claimant might have obtained from educational experiences, hobbies or interests, or volunteer work cannot be considered in a TSA. See also, Determination of Capacity for Past Work – Relevance Issues, in DI 25005.015.

b. Other factors to consider

Consider these factors in your assessment:

  • types of tasks, materials, production, processes or services;

  • types of tools or machines used;

  • composite jobs;

  • degree of judgment required beyond carrying out simple duties;

  • work-setting or industry, or both; and

  • the claimant’s description of PRW (as opposed to the DOT description).

c. Claimant’s description of PRW

Focus on the claimant’s description of PRW. For a complete definition of PRW see, DI 25005.015.

Do not do the following:

  • rely on generic occupational titles;

  • assume that an individual acquired all skills listed in the DOT occupation; or

  • disregard skills acquired that are not listed in the DOT.

2. Common jobs with skills

These skills are highly likely to transfer to other light work:

  • Auto repair

  • Cooking

  • Electrician

  • Heavy equipment operator

  • Inspecting

  • Law enforcement

  • Machining

  • Maintenance mechanic

  • Master carpenter

  • Nursing

  • Plumbing

  • Sales

These skills are highly likely to transfer to other sedentary or light work:

  • Assembly

  • Clerical

  • Supervisor

These skills that do not generally transfer to other work:

  • Nurse’s aide (skills are just barely above unskilled, but may vary among nurse’s aides). Many employers now require nurse’s aides to be certified. The certification process generally includes education and training beyond the education and time commitment required to be a basic nurse’s aide. To earn certification, nurse’s aides also need to pass a competency examination administered by their State. The specific skills actually acquired and performed by the individual as a nurse’s aide must be identified, supported by appropriate documentation, and specific skills that are transferable identified. See DOT No. 355.674-014 for a description of a nurse’s aide’s duties;

  • Specialized truck driving (basic driving ability is not a skill); and

  • Many jobs in mining, agriculture, or fishing (unusual or isolated vocational settings).

3. Age-specific rules

Claimants in some age groups would have to make very little, if any, vocational adjustment, in order for their skills to be deemed transferable. See the details in DI 25015.017J.2. and DI 25015.017D.1. in this section.

K. References

SSR 82-41: Titles II and XVI: Work Skills and Their Transferability as Intended by the Expanded Vocational Factors Regulations Effective February 26, 1979

SSR 83-10 Titles II and XVI: Determining Capability to do Other Work – The Medical-Vocational Rules of Appendix 2

DI 25001.001 Medical-Vocational Quick Reference Guide

DI 25005.015 Past Relevant Work (PRW) – Relevance Issues

DI 25005.020 Past Relevant Work (PRW) as the Claimant Performed It

DI 25005.025 Past Relevant Work (PRW) as Generally Performed in the National Economy

DI 25015.015 Work Experience as a Vocational Factor

DI 25015.030 Use of Vocational Expert and Vocational Specialist Evidence, and Other Reliable Occupational Information in Disability Decisions—SSR 00-4p

DI 25025.022 Using a Medical-Vocational Rule as a Framework When the Issue of Transferable Skills is Not Material to the Determination

DI 25025.035 Tables No. 1, 2, 3, and Rule 204.00


DI 25015 TN 11 - Ability to Perform Other Work - 6/27/2020