The basic mental demands of competitive, remunerative, unskilled work include the abilities (on a sustained basis) to:
understand, carry out, and remember simple instructions;
make judgments that are commensurate with the functions of unskilled work, i.e., simple
respond appropriately to supervision, coworkers and work situations; and
deal with changes in a routine worksetting.
A substantial loss of ability to meet any of the basic mental demands listed in A.3.a. above.
severely limits the potential occupational base and thus,
would justify a finding of inability to perform other work even for persons with favorable
age, education and work experience.
NOTE: “Substantial loss” cannot be precisely defined. It does not necessarily relate to any particular adjective,
number, or percentage. In practical terms, an individual has a substantial loss of
ability to perform a basic mental activity when he or she cannot perform the particular
activity in regular, competitive employment but, at best, could do so only in a sheltered
work setting where special considerations and attention are provided. This requires
professional judgment, on the basis of the evidence in file in each case. The impairment
in a claim of this type may meet or equal the listed medical criteria. Therefore,
before making a determination that includes vocational evaluation, the adjudicator
should discuss the case with a psychiatrist or psychologist to learn whether a significant
part of the evidence had been previously overlooked or underrated.
A person who can meet all of the mental demands listed in “DI 25020.010A.3.a.” and has only a mental limitation(s) will almost always be capable of adjusting to
other work since his or her potential occupational base would be the unskilled jobs
at all exertional levels.
EXCEPTION: In a few rare instances where a person's vocational profile is extremely adverse (e.g., closely approaching retirement age, limited education or less, and
essentially a lifetime commitment to a field of unskilled work that is now precluded by a mental impairment), a finding of “disabled” may be appropriate. (This would be adjudicated under the Lifetime Commitments Special
Medical-Vocational Profile. See DI