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ALJ Failed to Determine Transferability of Skills

October 31, 2017

According to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the crucial factors in any disability determination must be set forth with sufficient specificity to enable to court to determine whether the determination is based on substantial evidence.  The ALJ failed to do so in regard to transferability of skills in Clark v. Berryhill, 2017 WL 3951758, --- Fed. App’x --- (2d Cir. Sept. 8, 2017).

The plaintiff argued the ALJ erred in concluding he was not disabled at age 50 under the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (the “grids”) based on the ALJ’s determination the plaintiff had acquired transferable vocational skills.  Citing Social Security Ruling (SSR) 82-41, the court agreed the ALJ had not set forth specific enough findings on transferability. Ostensibly relying on the testimony of a vocational witness at the hearing, the ALJ found the plaintiff had acquired vocational skills from his past semi-skilled work that were transferrable to other jobs identified by the witness. But the ALJ failed to identify the skills the plaintiff allegedly acquired or how the skills transferred to the jobs identified.  Without the required findings, the court could not determine if the decision was supported by substantial evidence. It remanded the claim for the Commissioner to make specific findings.

Peter Gorton of Endicott represented the plaintiff.


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