TN 17 (09-23)

DI 25015.015 Work Experience as a Vocational Factor


404.1565, 404.1568, 416.965, and 416.968

SSR 00-4p, SSR 82-62

A. Work experience defined

Work experience is skills and abilities individuals acquire through previous work which show the type of work they may be expected to do. A gradual change occurs in most jobs so that after 15 years it is no longer realistic to expect that skills and abilities acquired in a job done then continue to apply.

B. We consider work experience from past relevant work (PRW)

1. Work experience applies when past work:

  • Was substantial gainful activity,

  • Lasted long enough for an individual to learn to do it, and

  • Was done within the last 15 years.

NOTE: While the regulations provide that a claimant's work experience is usually relevant when the work was done within the last 15 years, in some cases work done prior to the 15-year period may be considered as relevant to establish a continuity of skills, knowledge, and processes between such work and the individual's more recent occupations,DI 25005.015C. We also consider earlier work experience when applying certain special medical-vocational profiles, DI 25010.001.

2. We do not generally consider work experience that ended more than 15 years before the time we are deciding whether an individual is disabled. For cases where we consider a different 15-year period, see DI 25001.001A.64. For special medical vocational profiles where we consider more than 15 years of work experience, see DI 25010.001.

C. Procedure for determining and documenting skill level of PRW

1. Consider whether each PRW job corresponds to a Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) occupation

  • The DOT occupational title of an individual's PRW may be different from the job title listed by the individual.

  • The DOT occupational title (if one exists) is determined from the description of the job duties and activities described by the individual (or an employer, coworker or family member, should the individual be unable to provide a sufficient description).

  • The job duties and activities, not the job title given by the individual, are determinative.

2. If the PRW corresponds to a DOT occupation

  • Look up the occupation's specific vocational preparation (SVP) rating.

  • Consider the occupation to be unskilled if the SVP rating is 1 or 2.

  • Consider the occupation to be semiskilled if the SVP rating is 3 or 4.

  • Consider the occupation to be skilled if the SVP rating is 5 or above.

3. If the job does not correspond to a DOT occupation

  • Compare the job duties and activities with the definitions of unskilled, semiskilled and skilled in DI 25001.001 and with the SVP timeframes listed in the DOT.

  • Consider a job as unskilled if its SVP time is determined to be from 0 to 30 days.

  • Consider a job semiskilled if its SVP time is determined to be from 30 days to 6 months.

  • Consider a job skilled if its SVP time is determined to be more than 6 months.

NOTE: In making the determination about skill level (and SVP), consider SVP ratings for DOT occupational titles that, while not corresponding to the PRW described by the individual, have duties and activities similar (in terms of skill level) to those that the claimant performed.

EXAMPLE: A claimant had PRW as a website developer. The claimant lists duties as communicating with designers to understand preferred website layout, coding new pages and website elements for client approval, testing new website elements across various search engines and devices, migrating successful website elements to live sites when testing is successful, troubleshooting any issues with client-facing content, updating website themes, plugins, and security to reflect current website best practices, monitoring and reporting website traffic and addressing website elements that can improve user experience. Website developer is not a job that has an occupational counterpart in the DOT. There is an occupation called Design Technician Computer Aided (DOT 003.362-010). It requires knowledge of CAD and graphics. It has an SVP of 5. There is also an occupation called Computer Programmer (DOT 030.162-010) which requires coding knowledge for entire programs rather than just design feature. It has an SVP of 7. It would be reasonable to find that a website developer has an SVP of approximately 6 given the need to know some design software, design, and coding principles to develop a website. Such work would take more than six months to learn and would be considered skilled work.

Determining the skill level of a job may sometimes be a complex vocational issue. For more information about:

  • PRW, see DI 25005.015.

  • Definitions of no work experience, unskilled work, skilled work, and semiskilled work, see DI 25001.001.

D. Work experience categories

When evaluating whether a claimant can do other work, use the highest work experience category reflective of the claimant’s PRW. If the claimant has no PRW, use the "no work experience" category.

  1. 1. 

    No work experience,

  2. 2. 

    Unskilled work experience,

  3. 3. 

    Semiskilled or skilled work experience, with no transferable skills, or

  4. 4. 

    Semiskilled or skilled work experience with transferable skills.

NOTE: If the claimant has semiskilled or skilled work experience, transferability of skills may or may not be material to the determination. For information about when a TSA is required, see DI 25015.017A.

E. Documenting PRW skill level and work experience category in the Disability Case Processing System (DCPS)

If the claimant has PRW, document the highest skill level of the individual’s PRW on the DCPS Vocational Assessment page.

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DI 25015.015 - Work Experience as a Vocational Factor - 09/28/2023
Batch run: 09/28/2023