The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider a variety of factors in deciding whether an injured worker is eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD). One of those is the worker’s skill level from his or her past work. The SSA will consider the impact your disability has on your ability to work a job at the same skill level as before. For that reason, an injured worker should understand the differences between skilled and unskilled work and how that affects their SSD eligibility. The Social Security disability lawyers of Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, help injured workers get the financial support they need, and we’re ready to help you today.
Skilled Versus Unskilled: Why Does It Matter?
Disability, according to the SSA, means that someone is unable to work any type of job that is currently available. In reviewing your application, the SSA will consider whether you are completely disabled (unable to work at all) or whether the worker’s skills and background allow them to work some other job in light of their condition. Although you might not be able to work the same job you had before your disability, there could be less demanding work you’re able to do. That’s where the skill level of your previous work comes into play.
How Does The SSA Classify Skilled and Unskilled Work?
The SSA will assign one of three skill levels to your past work: unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled.
Unskilled work. This type of work does not require the worker to exercise much (if any) discretion in how their job duties are performed. Physical strength, coordination, and manual labor are typical markers for this type of work. Unskilled labor can usually be learned in a short amount of time, but the worker will probably not acquire any transferable skills. Some examples of unskilled work are clerk, packer, and restaurant jobs.
Semi-skilled work. A semi-skilled job is one that requires more attention to detail than unskilled work. These jobs don’t require extensive training or education, so it usually takes between three and six months to learn the necessary skills. Coordination, dexterity, and repetitive duties may be part of the job. Semi-skilled workers often must monitor or operate machines and equipment. Examples include nurse’s assistant, call center employee, and retail sales.
Skilled work. Skilled work requires the use of judgment in creating a product or providing a service, and is considered the most complex. Using reason, making decisions, abstract thinking, and working closely with figures are common essential tasks. Skilled workers typically have years of education and training, along with advanced educational qualifications such as degrees, licenses, and certifications. Doctors, teachers, and engineers are considered skilled workers.
What Is Specific Vocational Preparation?
The SSA wants to understand how long it takes a worker to learn how to do the job they held before suffering the disability. To determine this, the SSA uses a rating system called Specific Vocational Preparation, or SVP. The SVP helps classify jobs as unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled. A higher SVP rating corresponds to a higher skill rating. The more skilled your work is, the less likely you will be able to obtain disability benefits. That’s because the SSA will likely decide there is less skilled work that you can do despite your disability.
How Will The SSA Use Your Job Skill Classification?
The SSA’s goal is to determine whether an applicant can obtain and maintain gainful employment despite their disability. To that end, the SSA will evaluate the limitations imposed by your medical or psychological condition. There are some conditions so severe that the applicant is automatically approved for benefits, provided they meet other applicable criteria.
However, if the SSA decides you cannot perform the same job you had before your disability, it still has to determine whether a new, different job is an option. This means taking a look at your previous employment and deciding whether you have any transferable skills. Your work history, educational background, and age will all be examined to answer this question. If it is determined that these factors, plus your disability, render you unable to perform a new job, you will likely be approved for SSD benefits. But if you can be trained for and obtain a new job, you will probably be denied disability benefits.
What Evidence Will The SSA Consider To Make Its Determination?
Eligibility for SSD benefits is based largely on a consideration of the applicant’s skills in light of his or her medical condition. When you apply for benefits, you should accurately describe your job functions since this information will be used to assign a skill level.
You should also have up-to-date medical records that contain information about your exact condition. The SSA will review these records to decide if there is sufficient evidence for the injury or illness you claim. Also, the SSA will consider what impact this medical evidence has on your ability to work. A claims examiner and medical consultant, among other individuals, will be consulted to determine this.
The SSA will use your medical records to assign you a Residual Functional Capacity, or RFC. The RFC is the level of exertion that a worker is capable of, despite their disability. RFC levels are:
- Very Heavy
Your RFC rating is an essential part of determining what you are capable of doing, given your limitations. As an example, you might be able to perform desk work, but not be able to sit or stand for extended periods of time.
Contact Our Lancaster Social Security Disability Attorney
You have the right to appeal a denied SSD claim. But before you apply for benefits, it would be a good idea to review your condition and determine your eligibility. You can count on Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, to help. We understand that applying for Social Security disability can be overwhelming, and we will work with you each step of the way. Give us a call today to get started on your case.