CPD: The claim for a 50-year-old utility company lineman with twelve years of education
was allowed on a medical-vocational basis because he could “no longer work at heights
or in hazardous situations due to vertigo, as required in his customary job.” This
was documented in a SSA-416; however, the file did not contain a residual functional
capacity (RFC) assessment at CPD. No other impairment was alleged or discovered during
medical development. The rationale did not discuss the ability to perform other work,
nor did the file include a detailed work history.
CDR decision: The severity of the beneficiary's vertigo remained unchanged.
Explanation: Usually, a substitution of judgment (in this example, regarding the RFC) is involved
in proposing to find error in prior medical-vocational decisions. However, there is
a unique set of circumstances in this example. Neither the rationale nor folder reflected
any attempt to evaluate “other work,” no RFC was prepared, and no vocational rule
cited. Also, there were no other impairments (including no “not severe” impairments)
which could form a basis for finding the beneficiary unable to do other work. The
vertigo alone could not have prevented his doing all other work not involving working
at heights or around machinery. The CPD was in error because of the clear misapplication
(or non-application) of the other work step in the sequential evaluation process.