Occupational Base

An occupational base is the number of occupations that the SSA determines an individual is able to perform. The occupational base of a Social Security Disability applicant is determined by the applicant’s Residual Functional Capacity.

There are a number of jobs that can possibly make up an applicant’s occupational base. These jobs are usually unskilled work. There are approximately 2,500 medium, light and sedentary occupations that can contribute to a Social Security Disability applicant’s occupational base and approximately 1,600 light and sedentary occupations as well as 200 sedentary occupations. The more of these occupations that a Social Security Disability applicant is able to perform, the lower his or her chances are of obtaining Social Security Disability benefits. However, as the applicant’s occupational base erodes by eliminating the ability to do the positions that define the base, the chances of that individual’s Social Security Disability benefits being approved increase.

When an individual is applying for Social Security Disability, his or her limitations will be compared to the skills of the occupational base jobs available and the demands needed to perform those jobs. If the limitations rule out a job within these occupational base positions, that job is removed from the applicant’s occupational base. If the Social Security Administration determines that the applicant’s occupational base combined with his or her age, education and work history make it impossible for the individual to maintain gainful work activity, that individual will be approved for Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

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