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Home » Glossary » Vocational Factors

Definition of Vocational Factors

Claimants often wonder when the Social Security Administration will consider their age, work history or education in their disability decision. Each of these factors is considered "vocational factors," and they are only considered by the Social Security Administration if the claimant's condition does not meet or exceed a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments.

The SSA uses the sequential evaluation process to determine if a claimant is disabled, unable to work and qualifies for SSDI or SSI benefits. In the first several steps of the process the SSA determines if a claimant is currently working and making too much money, if the condition will last 12 continuous months and whether the condition is severe. Next the SSA determines whether the claimant's condition meets or exceeds a listing SSA Listing of Impairments (Step 3). None of these steps consider a claimant's vocational factors.

It is not until step 5 in the sequential evaluation process before the SSA reviews a claimant's vocational factors. At this point the SSA considers the claimant's vocational factors of age, work history and education to determine whether the claimant can retrain for new work. For example, the SSA understands individuals over the age of 60 cannot easily find a new job. For this reason it will be easier for an older claimant with limited education to win SSDI benefits.

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