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What is a transferrable skill?

If a claimant is 50 there is a good chance the during your hearing the judge and vocational expert will talk about transferrable skills. Skills are knowledge about a job that is gained by performing the job. A skill requires the exercise of judgment that goes beyond carrying out simple job duties. Examples of skills can be assembling equipment or complex objects. A skill can be keeping a money drawer balanced using a computer. Social Security has said that basic driving ability, filing papers, greeting customers and basic food preparation are not skills.

Jobs are classified as unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled. Examples of an unskilled position is something like a fast food worker. A waiter is considered semi-skilled and a manager of a restaurant is considered skilled. If a position is classified as skilled it likely the person learned things while doing that job. And some of that knowledge might transfer to a different job. If the judge decides that the claimant cannot perform his past work for mental or physical reasons and he are over 50, the she will ask the vocational expert about skills the claimant may have learned in the past.

Then the vocational expert will perform a Transferability of Skills Assessment (POMS DI 25015.017) . If the judge has limited a person to unskilled work there will be no transferrable skills. If the judge has not limited the claimant to unskilled work the vocational expert will go to Step One of the Transferability of Skills Assessment. Step One requires that the vocational expert look in-depth at the claimant's job description and identify processes, tools, machines and materials uses. Then the vocational expert goes to Step Two, which is locating the position in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. At Step Three of the assessment the vocational expert reviews the vocational factors such as the limitations the judge has placed on the claimant, the skill level of the past work and skills leaned. Next the vocational expert looks for occupations that are related to the claimants past work. There are a few indicators that a job is related and would have similar skills, one of those indicators is the occupational group, which is the first three numbers of the nine digit code in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). First instance, the occupational group for waitress, take out waitress, fast food worker and counter attendant is 311.

Then the vocational expert makes a list of possible occupational that would have transferrable skills. At Step Six the vocational expert must compare the DOT descriptions of each occupation. And at Step Seven the vocational expert determines which jobs would have transferrable skills within the limitations posed by the judge. At Step Eight the vocational expert identifies both the transferrable skills specifically and the occupations to which they transfer.

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In Minnesota, we handle Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. Throughout the nation, we handle SSDI applications and appeals for people from Ohio to Kansas, North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between.


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