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One of the last steps in the Social Security disability eligibility analysis is determining whether an applicant has employment skills that are transferable to a different job. This analysis won’t need to be done for every applicant, but if you are applying for benefits, you should understand how the Social Security Administration determines if you have transferable skills.

How a Transferability of Skills Analysis Works

According to the Social Security Administration, the following steps should be completed when doing a transferability of skills analysis:

  1. Identify the applicant’s past relevant work in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. This will provide guidance on an applicant’s skill level and level of exertion that may be transferred to other jobs.
  2. Consider the applicant’s own description of past relevant work to identify things such as work tasks, processes, judgments, tools and materials used, work settings, and industries.
  3. Search for other occupations in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles that are at or below the specific vocational preparation level of the applicant’s past relevant work experience and within the applicant’s residual functional capacity. Specific vocational preparation levels are defined as: unskilled (levels 1-2), semi-skilled (levels 3-4); and skilled (levels 5-9).
  4. Once a list of other possible occupations has been identified, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles’ description of job tasks, materials used, and skills should be compared to the applicant’s past relevant work.
  5. Determine what possible occupations are matches. Typically, three possible matches are identified. If too few matches—or no matches—are found, the applicant is determined to have no transferable skills.

If no transferable skills are found, an applicant may be eligible for Social Security disability. However, if transferable skills are identified, the applicant may be denied Social Security disability and may need to find work in another field.

Thus, this step—like every step in the Social Security disability application process—is important. If you have questions about your eligibility or application, we encourage you to call us directly at 800-800-6353 to get your questions answered.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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