The Social Security Administration will find that you are disabled if your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you’ve done in the past or another type of work.
However, what happens if the work that you did no longer exists and you aren’t qualified to do any other type of work for which there is currently a demand?
Jobs Change Over Time
The jobs available in the workforce change over time. For example, some jobs from the 20th century, such as switchboard operators, elevator operators, and film projectionists are no longer necessary because of technological advancements. Other jobs, such as milk delivery, have fallen out of fashion. Some of the skills used in some of these jobs are easily transferred to other occupations, but others are not as easy to apply in different situations.
Jobs in the National Economy
When deciding whether you can do the work that you used to do or another type of work, the Social Security Administration must consider whether you can do work that currently exists in the national economy. Your physical ability, mental ability, and vocational qualifications are considered when determining what kind of work you can do.
Generally, work exists in the national economy if the jobs exist in significant numbers in the region where you live or in several other regions in the United States. There must be a significant number of jobs in one or more occupations that have requirements that you can meet. While the federal regulations do not establish a specific number as “significant,” the regulations are clear that a few “isolated” jobs that exist in “very limited numbers in relatively few locations outside of the region where you live are not considered work which exists in the national economy.”
When the Social Security Administration determines whether jobs exist in the national economy, it considers information from the:
- Dictionary of Occupational Titles, published by the U.S. Department of Labor
- County Business Patterns, published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census
- Census Reports, from the U.S. Bureau of the Census
- Occupational Analysis prepared for the Social Security Administration by State employment agencies
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Vocational experts or other experts if there is a complex issue, such as whether your work skills can be used in other work or occupations.
If jobs that you can do exist in the national economy, then you are not disabled even if you are unemployed because:
- You can’t get work
- There isn’t enough work in your local area
- The hiring practices of employers prevent you from working
- Technology has changed in the industry
- Cyclical economic conditions temporarily make work unavailable
- There are no job openings
- You don’t want to do a particular kind of work.
Additionally, the Social Security Administration will not consider the following in determining whether work exists in the national economy:
- If there is work in your immediate geographic area
- Whether a specific job vacancy exists
- If you would be hired if you applied for a specific job
The Social Security Administration must follow the specific regulations for determining if work exists in the national economy, as described above. However, the information that you provide or that your Social Security disability attorney presents in your application or appeal may influence the outcome of your Social Security disability case.
What Else You Need to Know About Social Security Disability Eligibility
A determination of your eligibility may be made without the Social Security Administration ever considering whether your job still exists in the national economy. For example, if your disability is included in the Listing of Impairments, then it is presumed that you cannot work.
Learn more about your Social Security disability rights and how to protect them by browsing our free library of articles or contacting our Boston area Social Security disability application lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.