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Please explain what is considered skilled and unskilled work.


Please explain what is considered skilled and unskilled work.


  • A SKILL is the knowledge of the principles and the processes of a job and the ability to apply them in practice in a proper and approved way. Examples of a skill are making precise measurements, reading blueprints, setting up and operating complex machinery. SSA will determine the claimant’s skill level by the types of work he has done in the past. SSA classifies jobs as unskilled, semiskilled and skilled. SSA will look at the jobs the claimant performed in the last 15 years and determine if they were unskilled, semiskilled or skilled. The SSA will consult authoritative vocational sources such as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to help them determine which category the claimant’s past work should fall into.

    1. UNSKILLED work needs little or no judgment to do simple duties that can be learned on the job in a short period of time. This is usually 30 days or less. An example of an unskilled job is one that involves putting materials on or in, or taking them off or out of a machine. A person does not gain skills by doing unskilled work.

    2. SEMISKILLED work needs some skills but does not require complex work duties. An example of a semiskilled job would be one that requires alertness and close attention to watching machine processes.

    3. SKILLED work requires that a person use judgment. For example, a skilled job may require that a person determine the machine and manual operations to be performed in order to obtain the proper forms.

    Practice Tip: The lower the skill level the claimant has the more likely the claimant will be found disabled. You want to try to place your client in the lowest skill level possible. For example, unskilled is better than semi-skill and semiskilled is better than skilled in a disability claim.