The Seventh Circuit recently decided that judgment is not a job skill for the purposes of a Social Security disability claim.
In Villano v. Astrue, __ F.3rd __, No. 08-2150 (7th Cir. Jan. 26, 2009) the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals stated:
In determining whether the claimant can perform jobs that exist in significant numbers at step five of the analysis, the ALJ must decide whether the claimant acquired any skills from her past work experience, and if so, whether they would transfer to new jobs. See S.S.R. 82-41; Key v. Sullivan, 925 F.2d 1056, 1062 (7th Cir. 1991). This circuit has not addressed whether “judgment” is a skill, but at least two other circuits have determined that it is not, explaining that a skill as defined in S.S.R. 82-41 and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1565(a) is a particular learned ability, and “judgment” is too vague to constitute such a skill. See Draegert v. Barnhart, 311 F.3d 468, 475-76 (2d Cir. 2002); Ellington v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 738 F.2d 159, 159-61 (6th Cir. 1984). Thus, the ALJ erred in concluding that Villano had a generalized skill of “judgment” that was somehow transferable to new jobs in a different field.
This opinion is good reminder that the issues of job skills and transferability of job skills can make the difference between winning and losing a Social Security disability claim. The Villano case also provides yet another example of a vocational expert with an expansive definition of what constitutes a job skill. Such artistic license must be cross-examined vigorously when encountered.