TN 6 (02-15)

DI 25025.005 Using the Medical-Vocational Guidelines


Social Security Act (the Act) §§: 223(d)(2)(A) and 1614(a)(3)(B)

20 CFR §§: Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, 404.1520(f), 404.1560 thru 404.1569(a), 416.920(f), and 416.960 thru 416.969(a)

Social Security Rulings (SSR): 96-9p, 86-8, 85-15, 83-14, 83-12, 83-11, and 83-10

A. The medical-vocational guidelines and sequential evaluation

1. Applying step 5

Apply step 5 of sequential evaluation only after determining the claimant:

  • is not performing substantial gainful activity (SGA);

  • has a severe impairment;

  • does not meet or equal a listed impairment;

  • cannot do any past relevant work (PRW) based on a function-by-function comparison of residual functional capacity (RFC) with the demands of PRW both as the claimant performed the job and as the occupation is generally performed in the national economy; and

  • does not meet one of the special medical-vocational profiles found in “Special Medical-Vocational Profiles” in DI 25010.001).

2. Exceptions to following the steps in order

It is not necessary to follow the steps in order when the claimant:

  • meets the requirements for expedited step 4 of sequential evaluation as described in “Expedited Vocational Assessment at Steps 4 and 5 of Sequential Evaluation” in DI 25005.005; or

  • is not performing SGA, has a severe impairment(s), cannot do PRW, and the adjudicator determines it is more expeditious to allow the case on a medical-vocational basis as described in “Curtailing Development of Fully Favorable Claims” in DI 24515.020 than it would be evaluate the claimant’s impairment(s) under the listings.

CAUTION: No matter how restrictive a claimant’s RFC, you must always develop the claimant’s PRW and perform step 4 of sequential evaluation prior to finding the claimant disabled at step 5 of sequential evaluation. See DI 25005.005D.1.a.

B. Using a rule to direct a determination

1. How to determine if a rule directs a determination

A rule directs a determination when:

  • the claimant can do substantially all of the range of work represented by the exertional requirements for Table No. 1, 2, or 3; and

  • his or her vocational factors of age, education, and past work experience meet the criteria of a rule.

To determine if the claimant’s vocational factors meet the criteria of a rule, use the categories for:

  1. age found in “Age as a Vocational Factor” in DI 25015.005 and Borderline Age in DI 25015.006,

  2. education found in “Education as a Vocational Factor” in DI 25015.010, and

  3. past work experience found in “Work Experience as a Vocational Factor” in DI 25015.015.

NOTE: Rule 204.00 never directs a determination. See DI 25025.005C.1. in this section.

2. The implication of a rule directing a determination

When the claimant’s exertional RFC and vocational factors of age, education, and past work experience meet the criteria of a rule, the issues of work adjustment and existence of work in the national economy for the claimant are resolved.

If the rule directs a determination of:</