Transferable Skills and the Definitions of Skilled and Unskilled Work in a Social Security Disability Claim

Definition of Skilled, Semi-skilled, and Unskilled Work and its importance in Social Security Disability claim.  And how it is determined in SSDI and SSI claims if Skills are transferable to other jobs.

If you take a look at the GRID Rules section of my site you will see how the classification of a prior jobs skill level can be important.  When Social Security determines if there are other jobs you can do these definitions can also be important to know.

Work can be classified as any one of the following skill requirements.

Unskilled work is simple job duties that are learned in a short period of time.  They require very little to no judgement.  An example would be loading trucks or removing pieces from a machine.  A person can usually learn these types of jobs in 30 days or less.  One does not gain work skills from doing this type of employment.

Semi-skilled Workis work that requires some skills but not complex duties.  A person in this type of work may require attention and some degree of alertness.  Coordination and dexterity may be required.  An example of this type of work would be one who tends to a machine, inspects, or tests and guards against defect, damage or injury.  These jobs are less complex than skilled but more complex than unskilled.

Skilled work is work which requires a fairly high level of complexity.  Types of work that require using judgement to determine the machine and manual operations in order to obtain the right quantity and quality of item produced.  This type of work can include reading of blue prints, precise measurements, determining what is needed, making computations, dealing with people, abstract ideas, or dealing with figures.

Now I will discuss the concept of transferable skills.  This means skills that can be used in other jobs.  When the semi-skilled or skilled work activities from prior work can be used to meet the requirements of other jobs this is called transferable work skills.  this depends largely on the similarity of occupationally significant work activities among different jobs.

How does SSA determine transferable skills to other work?  Transferability is most probable and meaningful among jobs in which:  1.  The same or lesser degree of skill is required.  2.  The same or similar tools and machines are used; and   3.  The same or similar raw materials, products, processes, or services are involved.  A complete similarity between jobs is not necessary for transferability.  Skills that are very specialized for an isolated vocational setting and not readily usable in other industries are not transferable.

If you are 55 years or older transferability of skills is treated differently and there are some different rules which are beyond the scope of this page.  See SSA website for more on transferable skills for 55 and over.  

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