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Social Security Disability: Defining Skilled and Unskilled Work

By Kenton Koszdin Law Office on January 16, 2018 | In Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability: Defining Skilled and Unskilled Work

One of the key components in evaluating whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is whether or not you are able to perform your job. Your medical condition must be severe enough to have a significantly negative effect on your ability to do tasks related to your work.

Even if the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds that you are unable to do your past job, they will look at less demanding work that you may be able to do. For this assessment, the SSA uses the skill level of your last job to list other jobs you might be able to do.

Defining Skill Levels for Social Security Disability Eligibility

The SSA classifies job skill levels based on how long it takes to learn the job, plus the characteristics of the specific job.

The 3 job skill categories are:

  • Unskilled work. This work requires little or no judgment to perform simple tasks, and typically can be learned in less than a month. Unskilled work often requires strength and does not help a worker gain work skills.
  • Semi-skilled work. Semi-skilled work does require some skills but not complex job functions. This work requires alertness and ability to pay attention to detail. A job requiring coordination and dexterity to perform a repetitive task may be semi-skilled. Semi-skilled jobs typically take 3-6 months to learn.
  • Skilled work. This type of work requires the use of judgment and the knowledge of how to perform manual or mechanical tasks to create a product or provide a service. Skilled work includes jobs that require a person to work with figures, ideas or facts, or to work closely with others.

As you can see, it is very important that you accurately describe your job functions when applying for SSDI. This is the information that the SSA will use to assign a skill level to your work.

Specific Vocational Preparation Ratings

In order to determine the skill level of your jobs, the SSA uses a rating called the Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) based on how long it takes a worker to learn how to do the job (including most types of training).

Using the SVP levels, job skill assessments are categorized as:

  • Unskilled: Learning the job based on a short demonstration for up to one month of training
  • Semi-skilled: Training over one month to six months
  • Skilled: Training greater than six months

The SSA will use the skill level(s) of your past work to assess whether there is other work that you can do, given your medical condition, that is at the same skill level or lower. In other words, the higher your skill level of your past work, the harder it may be to win your claim as the SSA may find work that you are capable of doing.

Let our attorneys experienced with Social Security Disability applications investigate how your SSDI claim may be affected by your past work.

We Can Help With Your Social Security Disability Benefits Application and Appeal

If you or a loved one has been denied Worker’s Compensation or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, it’s important to get an attorney experienced in these types of cases involved immediately. Call 800.438.7734 for your initial free consultation, either in our office or in the comfort of your own home. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office, Social Security attorney in Van Nuys, can help you navigate the application process for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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