Disability claimants over the age of 55 who are unable to perform their past relevant work and are limited to Light exertional work (or less) will be found disabled at step 5 in the absence of readily transferable skills (and in the absence of recent education providing direct entry to skilled work), by operation of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, or “the Grids.” See Grid rule 202.06.
As the regulations explain, “the limitations in vocational adaptability represented by functional restriction to light work warrant a finding of disabled.” See Section 202.00(c) of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines.
Conversely, “The presence of acquired skills that are readily transferable to a significant range of semi-skilled or skilled work within an individual’s residual functional capacity would ordinarily warrant a finding of not disabled.” See Section 202.00 (e) of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, and Grid rule 202.07.
Of course, Social Security does not define how many jobs (to which acquired job skills would transfer) are needed to constitute a “significant range” of semi-skilled or skilled work. The 9th Circuit has held that 2 jobs are insufficient to satisfy the “significant range” range requirement. See Maxwell v. Saul, 971 F.3d 1128 (9th Cir. 2020). Are three jobs enough? Four? More? We don’t know for sure.
You can be pretty sure that the vocational expert testifying at your hearing doesn’t know either. So be sure to ask if acquired job skills would transfer to a significant range of skilled or semi-skilled work, as the regulations require. The VE may not want to be put on the spot to identify 4-5 jobs that the skills would transfer to, and will simply say no.
By the way, outside of the 9th Circuit (where Maxwell must be followed), Social Security’s position is that 2 jobs would be enough to meet the requirement for a significant range of work.