Identification Number:
DI 25015 TN 13
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. 13, 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

06/27/2020

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 sections to reflect the changes in the regulation and the guidance provided in SSR 20-01p.

 

Summary of Changes

DI 25015.010 Education as a Vocational Factor

We removed all content dealing with the “Inability to Communicate in English" education category. We incorporated the guidance on assessing a claimant’s education, using the remaining four education categories, as set forth in the SSR 20-01p. We also made other revisions.

Under the Citations: Deleted superfluous citation "rule 201.00(d)." Cited and added a link to "SSR 20-01p: Titles II and XVI: How We Determine an Individual's Education Category."

Under Section C. --

  • Line 1: Replaced "For adjudicative purposes, we have five education categories" with "We have four categories of education."

  • Subsection C.1.: Revised the title from "Illiterate or Unable to Communicate in English" to "Illiteracy."

  • Subsection C.1.a.: Revised the title "Illiterate" to "Illiteracy." Revised the definition of Illiteracy, and added the content labeled "IMPORTANT."

  • Subsection C.1.b.: Replaced "Unable to communicate in English" with "How to apply the Illiteracy category" and added guidance on assessing illiteracy for claimants with at least a 4th grade education. Added "NOTE 1," "NOTE 2," and the content labeled "IMPORTANT" under the at least a 4th grade education section. Added guidance on assessing illiteracy for claimants with less than a 4th grade education. Added "NOTE 1" and "NOTE 2" under the less than a 4th grade education section.

  • Subsection C.1.c.: Deleted all content under 1.c. "When to apply illiterate or unable to communicate in English."

  • Subsection C.1.d.: Deleted all content under 1.d. "When to apply the Martinez Acquiescence Ruling (AR) 86-3(5) regarding the findings of illiterate or unable to communicate in English." We are rescinding the AR.

  • Subsection C.2.: Added "(in any country)" to the definition of Marginal Education.

  • Subsection C.3.: Added "(in any country)" to the definition of Limited Education.

  • Subsection C.4.: Revised "High School or More Education" to "High School Education and Above" consistent with the regulation and the SSR. Added "(in any country)" to the definition of "High School Education and Above." Added "NOTE 1," "NOTE 2," and the content labeled as "IMPORTANT," which contains information about recently completed education providing direct entry into skilled or semi-skilled work. This content was previously listed as the fifth category of education.

  • Subsection C.5.: As discussed above, deleted Subsection 5, described as the fifth education category titled "High School or More - Provides for Direct Entry into Skilled or Semiskilled Work." The content was moved to Subsection 4. and labeled as "IMPORTANT."

Under Section D. --

  • Section D.: Revised the title "Evidence to Identify the Appropriate Education Category" to "Evidence of Education."

  • Lines 1-2: Moved the content in Lines 1-2 to Subsection D.1.

  • Section D. NOTE: Moved the content in the "NOTE" dealing with eView to Subsection D.2. "NOTE."

  • Subsection D.1.: Replaced the title "Identifying the ability to communicate in English on the SSA-3368 (Disability Report – Adult)" with "What evidence to consider" and revised the content.

  • Subsection D.2.: Replaced the title "Identifying education on the SSA-3368" with "Where to find the evidence" and revised the content. Moved the "NOTE" under Section D to under subsection D.2.

  • Subsection D.3.: Replaced the title "Identifying education on the SSA-3441 (Disability Report – Appeal)" with "What if conflicting evidence exists" and revised the content. The content previously in D.4. was moved to D.3. Added "NOTE 1" and NOTE 2."

  • Subsection D.4.: Deleted D.4. and incorporated the content into D.3, as appropriate.

Under Section E. --

  • Section E.: Replaced the title "When an education discrepancy is not material to the disability determination" to "When Conflicting Information about a Claimant's Education is not Material to the Disability Determination." Revised the content for clarification.

Under Section F. --

  • Subsection F.1. first bullet point: Added "the date last insured, or the prescribed period ending date, whichever is earlier" to keep the content consistent throughout Section F.

  • Subsection F.2.first bullet point: Revised the content for clarification.

  • Subsection F.2.second bullet point: Revised the content for clarification.

  • Subsection F.3.third bullet point: Added "(no more than 5 years form the date of adjudication)" for clarification of the direct entry policy.

  • Subsection F.4.first bullet point: Replaced it with the third bullet point.

  • Subsection F.4.third bullet point: Replaced it with the first bullet point.

  • Subsection F.5.first bullet point: Revised "ensure that the claimant has a high school (or equivalent) or more education because direct entry applies only to this education level" to "ensure that the claimant has a high school education (or equivalent) or above because direct entry applies only to claimants who completed high school education (including GED) or more" for consistency with revised C.4.

  • Subsection F.5.third bullet point: Revised "document information about how long the claimant attended the education, what the education covered, and any certifications or degrees achieved" to "document the length and the type of the education recently completed, and any certifications or degrees achieved."

  • Subsection F.5.fourth bullet point: Revised "determine the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) skilled or semiskilled occupation(s) the education provided the claimant direct entry into" to "identify skilled or semi-skilled occupations in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) that the claimant can do using his or her recently completed education."

Conversion Table
Old POMS ReferenceNew POMS Reference
DI 25015.010DI 25015.010

DI 25015.010 Education as a Vocational Factor

A. Policy for Considering Education as a Vocational Factor

Consider the claimant’s education with residual functional capacity (RFC), age, and work experience at step 5 of sequential evaluation.

B. Education as a Vocational Factor

Education means formal schooling or other training that contributes to the claimant’s ability to meet vocational requirements of work, such as basic:

  • reasoning,

  • arithmetical ability, and

  • communicating

C. Education Categories

We have four categories of education:

1. Illiteracy

a. Illiteracy

Illiteracy means the inability to read or write (in any language). We find a person illiterate if the person cannot read or write a simple message (in any language) even though the person can sign his or her name. An illiterate person generally has little or no formal schooling.

IMPORTANT: Do not consider the location of the claimant when assessing illiteracy. If a claimant living in the United States is able to read and write a simple message in any language (does not have to be English), find the claimant literate

b. How to apply the Illiteracy category

First, determine the highest grade the claimant has completed in school, then analyze whether to assign the Illiteracy category in the manner described below:

  • If the claimant has completed at least a 4th grade education (in any country), it is generally appropriate to find the claimant is literate and assign the claimant to another, more appropriate education category listed below in DI 25015.010C. 2-4 because most people learn to read and write by the time they complete 4th grade.

  • However, if the evidence in the case shows that the claimant cannot read or write a simple message (in any language), despite having completed at least 4th grade, find the claimant illiterate. Examples of relevant evidence may include whether a claimant:

    • has received long-term special education related to difficulty learning to read or write at a basic level;

    • lacks work history due to an inability to read or write;

    • has valid intelligence test results demonstrating an inability to read or write a simple message;

    • has valid reading and writing test results demonstrating an inability to read or write a simple message.

NOTE 1: The above is not an exhaustive list of evidence that may be relevant in assessing whether a claimant can read and write a simple message. Consider any other relevant evidence in the case.

NOTE 2: Do not rely on test results alone to determine that a claimant is illiterate.

IMPORTANT: If the evidence in the case supports the finding that a claimant is unable to read or write a simple message (in any language), despite having completed at least a 4th grade education, find the claimant illiterate.

  • If the claimant has completed less than a 4th grade education (in any country), consider all relevant evidence to determine whether the claimant is able to read and write a simple message (in any language). Do not assume that the claimant is unable to read or write because he or she has had little or no formal education. Formal education is not the only way a person can learn to read and write. Examples of relevant evidence that may be helpful in assessing illiteracy may include whether a claimant:

    • has worked in the past and the responsibilities the claimant had when working;

    • can read, write and understand short and simple statements in everyday life, such as shopping lists, short notes, and simple directions;

    • can read newspapers or books;

    • can read and write a simple emails or text messages;

    • had any vocational training or certification requiring reading and writing;

    • has or ever had a driver's license that required passing a written test.

NOTE 1: The above is not an exhaustive list of evidence that may be relevant in assessing whether a claimant can read and write a simple message. Consider any other relevant evidence in the case.

NOTE 2: Do not rely on test results alone to determine that a claimant is illiterate

2. Marginal Education

Formal schooling completed at a level of 6th grade or less (in any country).

3. Limited Education

Formal schooling completed at a level of 7th through 11th grade (in any country).

4. High School Education and Above

Formal schooling completed at a level of 12th grade and above (in any country). Consider a general educational development (GED) certification as equivalent to a high school education.

NOTE 1: If a claimant has education equivalent to high school from another country, use High School Education and Above category.

NOTE 2: Generally, we use the highest level of formal education that a claimant completed to determine the claimant's education category, which takes into consideration abilities in reasoning, arithmetic, and language. If there is a question about a claimant's language ability, use the language in which the claimant most effectively communicates. For most claimants, this language would be the language that they use every day in most situations, including at home, work, school, and in the community.

IMPORTANT: For a claimant who completed high school or more, we consider, as appropriate, whether the claimant recently completed education that prepared him or her to do a specific skilled or semi-skilled work. See below, DI 25015.010F Education that Provides for Direct Entry into Skilled or Semi-skilled Work, for detailed guidance.

D. Evidence of Education

1. What evidence to consider

Consider all evidence relevant to the issue of the claimant’s education, including self-reported information. Absent evidence showing that the claimant's present educational abilities are higher or lower than his or her highest grade of school completed, use the highest grade of school completed.

2. Where to find the evidence

A claimant’s education information may be found in:

  • SSA-3368 (Disability Report - Adult) - Section 5 asks about the claimant's education and training.

  • SSA-3441 (Disability Report - Adult) - Section 8 asks about the claimant's education and training at time of filing an appeal.

  • SSA-454 (Continuing Disability Review Report) - Section 7 asks about the claimant's education and training at the time of continuing disability review.

  • Elsewhere in the record, including in the consultative examiner's reports and other medical and non-medical document.

NOTE: The Educational Info section under the Case Data tab of the Electronic Folder also provides education information. For details about the Case Data Tab in eView, see DI 81005.045.

3. What if conflicting evidence exists

If there is evidence showing that the numerical grade a claimant completed in school may not be representative of the claimant's present educational abilities, assess all such evidence carefully. If the evidence supports a different finding, assign the claimant to a higher or lower education category, as appropriate. Examples of convincing evidence may include:

  • The kinds of responsibilities one assumed when working clearly indicates the existence of intellectual capacities (e.g., reasoning ability, communication skills and arithmetical ability) far greater than would be indicated by the amount of formal schooling he or she completed.

  • Special education records or educational testing records clearly demonstrates a lower level of educational abilities than indicated by numerical grade the claimant completed.

NOTE 1: Do not find a claimant's education category to be lower than his or her highest level of formal education based solely on a claimant's history of having received special education. Consider the nature and extent of the special education. In all cases, determine facts on an individual basis. Before assigning a claimant to an education category lower or higher than his or her highest level of formal education, there must be specific evidence supporting the finding in the determination.

NOTE 2: Do not consider whether the claimant attained his or her education in another country or whether the claimant lacks English language proficiency when determining the education category. Neither the country in which a person was educated nor the language a person speaks informs us about whether the person’s reasoning, arithmetic, and language abilities are commensurate with his or her formal education level.

E. When Conflicting Information about a Claimant's Education is not Material to the Disability Determination

Even if there is conflicting information about a claimant’s education, do not resolve the discrepancy unless doing so is material to the disability determination.

If all possible applicable medical-vocational rules would direct the same determination, no matter which education category is assigned to the claimant, use the education level the claimant reported on the most recent disability report to select the medical-vocational rule.

F. Education that Provides for Direct Entry into Skilled or Semiskilled Work

1. Policy for evaluating whether education provides for direct entry into skilled or semiskilled work

The significance of education that provides for direct entry depends on:

  • how much time has passed between the completion of the education and the date of adjudication, the date last insured, or the prescribed period ending date, whichever is earlier; and

  • the nature of the occupation for which the education provided preparation.

Evaluating education that provides for direct entry into skilled or semiskilled work is similar to evaluating whether skills transfer to other work. The education must provide an advantage in doing a particular skilled or semiskilled occupation at a high degree of proficiency with a minimal amount of job orientation.

2. Evaluating the recency of education

In order to evaluate the recency of education, consider the time lapse between the education and the date of adjudication, the date last insured, or the prescribed period ending date, whichever is earlier.

  • The shorter the duration of education and the lesser the skill of the occupation it prepared the claimant for, the more likely it is for the advantage of education to diminish over time. In this situation, to qualify as a direct entry education, the time lapse should be shorter.

  • The longer the duration of education and the higher the skill of the occupation it prepared the claimant for, the less likely it is for the advantage of education to diminish over time. In this situation, to qualify as direct entry education, the time lapse can be longer.

EXAMPLE: A claimant who completed a registered nurse bachelor’s degree program two years ago would be more likely to have an education that provided for direct entry than a claimant who completed a six-month travel agent training course two years ago.

3. When direct entry into skilled or semiskilled work is material to the disability determination

The issue of direct entry education may be material to the disability determination only if the claimant:

  • is a high school graduate (or equivalent) or more;

  • is age 50 or older;

  • recently completed specific education (no more than 5 years from the date of adjudication) designed to prepare an individual for a specific skilled or semiskilled job (for example, truck driving school, nursing school, law school, or cosmetology school); and

  • has the residual functional capacity (RFC) or mental residual functional capacity (MRFC) to do that skilled or semiskilled occupation (for example, truck driver, nurse, lawyer, or cosmetologist).

4. When direct entry into skilled or semiskilled work is not material to the disability determination

The issue of direct entry education is not material to the disability determination if:

  • the education or training was completed more than 5 years prior to adjudication;

  • the claimant’s RFC or MRFC is consistent with the ability to do no more than unskilled work; or

  • the medical-vocational rules that apply to the claimant’s age, work experience, and RFC result in not disabled for both the “provides for direct entry” and “does not provide for direct entry” rules.

5. Developing evidence to document direct entry into skilled or semiskilled work

If the issue of direct entry is material to a case, develop and document the following information:

  • ensure that the claimant has a high school education (or equivalent) or above because direct entry applies only to claimants who completed high school education (including GED) or more;

  • if not available on the SSA-3368 or SSA-3441, obtain the date when the claimant completed the recent education;

  • document the length and the type of the education recently completed, and any certifications or degrees achieved;

  • identify skilled or semi-skilled occupations in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) that the claimant can do using his or her recently completed education; and

  • verify the physical and mental demands of the occupation(s) that the education prepared the claimant to do.

IMPORTANT : If there is reference to recent education in the claimant’s medical evidence, and the issue of direct entry is material to the disability determination, develop and resolve the direct entry issue prior to making the disability determination.

6. Providing a rationale for the direct entry decision:

If there is a potential issue of direct entry, explain why direct entry does or does not apply. If the claimant has recent education that provides for direct entry into an occupation, cite the corresponding specific skilled or semiskilled DOT occupation.

EXAMPLE: A 58-year-old claimant with a high school education recently completed medical coding training one year prior to adjudication. He attended the program for 18 months, and received a medical record coder certification. His RFC permits a full range of light work. Use medical-vocational rule 202.05 to deny the claim. Cite the DOT occupation Medical Record Coder.


DI 25015 TN 13 - Ability to Perform Other Work - 6/27/2020