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Transferable skills are getting attention across the board in Social Security disability claims. I am particularly seeing transferable skills analyzed more frequently in DDS determinations.

At the DDS level, transferable skills are assessed with reference to POMS DI 25015.017

The POMS treatment of transferable skills is a great starting point for your review. If the concept of transferable skills is new to you, or you need a refresher, read the POMS section on transferable skills first. At the hearing level, see Social Security Ruling 82-41.Continue Reading Transferable Skills

An important aspect of your past relevant work is the skills you may have learned on the job. In the context of Social Security disability, the touchstone for job skills is Social Security Ruling 82-41. That Ruling states:

A skill is knowledge of a work activity which requires the exercise of significant judgment that

I have three clients at various stages of the Social Security disability process whose past relevant work is solely as a surgical technician, or surgery tech. Obviously, assisting the doctor in the operating room is a demanding job. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles describes the job as Light, SVP 7 (DOT Code 079.374-022).

When deciding a disability claim, the Social Security Administration looks at whether an individual is able to perform the duties of a job at steps 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation. Social Security does not consider whether an individual would be hired for that job.

Social Security’s regulations directly address this issue.

20 CFR

There is an excellent discussion of job traits versus transferable skills in Kramer v. Astrue, No. 1:10-cv-207-JAW (D. Me. March 25, 2011).

Here is the relevant excerpt (I have removed citations to the administrative record):

The administrative law judge found that the plaintiff’s past jobs as a firefighter and an emergency services dispatcher required the

In a Social Security disability case, the record often contains a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) or a medical source statement that sets forth limitations like these: lifting and carrying 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently, standing and/or walking for about 2 hours in an 8-hour work day, sitting about 6 hours in

Loyal readers know that I am a strong proponent of the hearing brief, which is filed into the record ahead of a Social Security disability hearing to assist the judge in the evaluation of the claim. Sometimes a post hearing memorandum is also called for. 

In my experience, a post hearing memorandum is needed


Many claimants complete the Work History Report (Form SSA-3369-BK) as part of a Social Security disability or SSI application process. However, the importance of the report is often not recognized by claimants. It is usually one of several reports that must be completed, and it seems innocuous. But it's not. In many claims, the work history report is just as important to the determination of disability as the claimant's medical records.  

Unless your condition meets a listed impairment, the SSA will make a medical-vocational determination of your claim at steps 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation. The vocational part of that determination relies heavily on your work history report, because the report helps to establish your past relevant work.

At step 4, the SSA will simply compare your RFC to the requirements of your past work, both as that work is described in the work history report, and as generally performed (see Social Security Ruling 82-61). If Social Security determines that you can still perform your past relevant work, your claim will be denied. 

If you do not describe the work requirements accurately, Social Security may conclude that you can still perform that past relevant work. So be sure to fully describe all of the requirements of the work you have performed in the past 15 years. Continue Reading Completing the Work History Report