One thing that’s important to understand in the world of Social Security and disability is that not being able to do your job – for whatever reason – doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t do other work. This means that the Social Security Administration Vocational Expert (SSAVE) needs to really understand how to go from past to possible present!
Over the last few weeks we’ve gone into multiple Social Security rulings that are listed on the SSA website in order to provide you different sources of information as you enter the realm of becoming and performing impartial witness duties as an SSAVE. Today we do the same thing with a new Social Security ruling – the SSR 83-10, which covers (under Social Security Acts Title II and Title XVI) how to determine capability to do other work.
This ruling really applies the vocational rules of appendix two that gives additional information to a prospective vocational expert. This SSR – just like the others we’ve covered – has all kinds of policy and background information. But in reality SSR 83-10 comes down to education and work experience combined with whatever remains of the claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC) and that is something that you as a SSA vocational expert do not determine. The RFC is determined by the administrative law judge or another representative. However, where you come in as the SSAVE is applying the residual functional capacity given by the administrative law judge to a hypothetical situation. You do this through using different functional capabilities to work that may or may not exist in the national economy across the United States.
You will apply these hypothetical limitations at that functional level regardless of whether it’s skilled, semi skilled, or unskilled work… meaning the RFC alone never establishes capability for those work functions. It really depends on the presence of acquired skills and their ability to transfer those from whatever work the claimant’s past job experience was into different work that now…currently…exists in the national economy.
In order to best understand what SSR 83-10 really provides in terms of guidance, the SSAVE needs to understand the definitions of terms and related concepts that are also listed in the bottom of the ruling. These include environmental conditions and what exertional activity is required – each of which really plays a part when given hypothetical situations by an administrative law judge – these include items such as ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, push, or pull and at what different levels. The exertional capability comes right after that and that is the overall capability required to perform whatever exertional activity that we just listed. Each forms a part of the given hypothetical situation and then must also meet the overall level of exertion (such as sedentary, light, or medium levels) and then how you can actually apply those to the different types of work that are out in the national economy.
SSR 83-10 goes even more in depth to define the actual length of exertion…going from occasional to frequent and then defining those. Examples include occasionally totaling generally no more than two hours of an 8 hour work day versus frequent occurring from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time…before you get too confused – just know that there are different decoders that are out there that are available to an SSAVE…one of which is on the SkillTRAN website.
SSR 83-10 goes on to introduce the actual definition of residual functional capacity (RFC). This is the medical assessment of what an individual can do in a work setting in spite of whatever functional limitations and environmental restrictions are imposed on this person by all of his or her medically determinable impairments. This determination is definitely influenced by vocational factors which we’ve defined previously.. such as the individual’s age, education, and work experience.
When you break age down chronologically, there are some definitive milestones (such as 45, fifty, 55, and 60) that can and will be critical inputs into the final decision that comes from the administrative law judge as to whether or not a claimant will receive disability or not.
The level of education is obvious – in essence, high school graduate or more…going all the way into multiple graduate degrees…and then previous work experience. Putting those two things together (education and work experience) and really defining what skilled or semi-skilled work later comes up gives one the possible ability to transfer skills into a new work. This new work is that other work which is at the end of the day what this Social Security ruling actually gets at – Does the claimant have the capability to do other work? The ability of you, the SSAVE, to apply the hypothetical situation (limitations the ALJ has created) really provides the background information necessary for the Social Security Administration to make a disability decision either for or against that claim.
Just like the rest of these series, SSRs are just a piece of the information necessary for the SSA VE to understand. If you don’t want to wait for all the information, you can get into the VELaunchpad now! Get everything we’ll go over in future dates now – on your schedule – and earn pre-approved CEU credit along the way – check us out at stroudve.talentlms.com today!