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How SSDI Defines Unskilled, Semi-Skilled and Skilled Work

By Kenton Koszdin on October 26, 2018 | In Social Security Disability

How SSDI Defines Unskilled, Semi-Skilled and Skilled Work

When you apply for disability benefits, you may not think about how much your skill level in previous jobs could impact your claim. The reality is, skill level is an important determining factor in whether you qualify for disability benefits at all.

Skill Level and Work

Jobs are typically arranged into 3 categories when it comes to skill level: Unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled. The particular category your previous work falls under may affect your claim if it is deemed that you can learn to do another job, or you have transferable skills. The latter falls under SSDI’s grid rules and may automatically disqualify you from receiving disability benefits even though you can no longer do your previous job.

SSDI will take every aspect of your job into account when assessing your skill levels. If you believe you are unskilled because your job involved carrying out menial tasks, the SSDI may see things differently. If the ability to carry out those menial tasks is deemed as a transferable skill, SSDI will consider you a semi-skilled worker.

Skill Levels Assessment

The Dictionary of Occupational Health is the tool that SSDI claims examiners use to determine skill levels for any particular job title. There are quite a few reasons that this can cause problems for claim applicants, not least among them the claimant providing the wrong job title in his or her application.

Unskilled work is considered easy to learn and doesn’t usually require the employee to use their own judgment to any great extent. Strength and coordination are two traits that are often required for unskilled work. Roles may include fast food worker, laborer in construction, janitor, or information clerk.

If you have done semi-skilled work at your last or any previous jobs, you will have spent between three to six months in training. This type of work can result in learning transferable skills that you could take to another job without being limited by your disability. Examples of semi-skilled work include security, nurse’s assistant, taxi driver, or salesperson. A good example of transferable skills would include a retail sales person transitioning to a telephone sales or customer service role.

Claimants who are determined to have engaged in skilled work may have made decisions, calculations, estimates, etc. It can also include positions that require a particular level of education or professional training. These roles can require a year or more of training before the employee is considered fully competent.

Many claimants will have worked a number of jobs before developing a disability so there is often a lot to unwrap regarding work skills. The SSDI don’t always get it right, but they will look to establish whether you have skills that can be transferred to another role—even if that means transitioning from a standing to a sitting role.

If you have filed a claim for disability benefits and it has been deemed that you are fit for work based on your work skill level, reach out to the Kenton Koszdin Law Office for advice. We provide a free consultation which will allow you to discuss your case with an experienced legal professional.

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