Two occupations does not constitute ‘significant range of work,’ says Ninth Circuit
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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Two occupations does not constitute ‘significant range of work,’ says Ninth Circuit

By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff

For a claimant of advanced age who has skills that are not readily transferable to a "significant range of work," an ALJ must find her disabled. SSA regulations recognize that for claimants age 55 and over, the most difficult problem they face is that of adapting to a new job. Here, the vocational expert (VE) testified that the claimant’s skills were transferable to only two occupations. The claimant contended that by accepting the VE’s testimony and finding her not disabled, the ALJ failed to identify a "significant range of work" within her functional capacity. Following Ninth Circuit precedent, the court concluded that two occupations does not constitute a "significant range of work." The court reasoned that a "range" necessarily requires more than one, and a "significant range" must require more than two. Although the court declined to adopt a bright-line rule on how many occupations are required to amount to a "significant range," it held that two are insufficient. Accordingly, the ALJ’s decision that the claimant was not disabled under the regulations was erroneous as a matter of law. Because there was no need for further factfinding given the VE’s testimony, the court remanded the case with instructions for the payment of benefits for the period after the claimant reached the age of 55 (Susan Leslie Maxwell v. Saul, CA-9, No. 18-35992, August 24, 2020).

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