What does Unskilled Work mean?
Unskilled work, according to the SSA, is work which "requires little or no judgment to perform simple tasks and can usually be learned in less than a month." Unskilled work may or may not require the claimant to have physical strength, but it is recognized as work which does not help a claimant gain work skills.
The SSA uses a five step process called the sequential evaluation process for evaluating disability. If the claimant is not engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), has one more severe medically determinable impairment which does not meet or equal the Listing of Impairments, and the SSA recognizes they cannot perform past relevant work, they will determine if the worker has the ability to do other work. This is the fifth step in the Sequential Evaluation Process.
Under this step the SSA will evaluate both the individual's residual functional capacity (RFC) in conjunction with his or her age, education, and work experience to decide if the worker can find other employment which exists in the national economy.
The SSA considers education and work experience to determine what skills the worker has acquired and which skills can be used in future work. If the claimant's past work was unskilled, the SSA assumes they will only be qualified to perform unskilled work. If their past work is semi-skilled, the SSA assumes they may be able to perform semi-skilled or unskilled work. This means the more highly educated and more skilled a claimant's previous work, the harder it may be to prove they cannot retrain for a new job.