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There are certain mental abilities you must have in order to perform unskilled work. Unskilled work is the easiest form of work. For example, it is work that does not require much attention. It is also work that does not require you go to school. Likewise, it does not require you to learn work skills on the job. If you received a denial from the SSA, unskilled work is usually the kind of work the SSA will claim you can do. The main definition of unskilled work is being able to learn a job in a matter of weeks or just a few months.

If you were trying to figure out what an unskilled job is, an example might be the job of parking lot attendant.  This job, for instance, does not require you to go to school. At work, you sit or stand in a booth and take a ticket or give a ticket to the customer. Also, jobs like this typically do not even require you to give change to the customer. Even so, these jobs still require mental abilities that can be impaired by they symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Another job, for example, that is does not require skills is working at the dollar store. Because everything is one dollar, you do not have to have skills to remember store codes. Likewise, you do not have to do complex math to give change back. Compare that cashier job to the cashiers at a large grocery store. They might have to remember hundreds of cash register codes. Or, for example, they might have to do more complex math. Even though some jobs look the same, their skill level might be different.


social security benefits form for Utah, Nevada, Callifornia, Idaho

SSA’s internal regulations define the critical factors involved in assessing an individual’s capacity to perform unskilled work. These factors are true wherever you work. You can be working in Utah, Nevada, California, or Idaho. The requirements are the same. The mental factors are outlined in Social Security Program Operations Manual Section DI 25020.010 B.3, which states:

Mental Abilities Critical for Performing Unskilled Work

The SSA has a list of elements that show what is important for performing unskilled work. The following list shows that even unskilled requires the ability to maintain attention and concentration. If you have mental impairments that prevent you from focusing for two hours periods, you cannot do unskilled work. Even pain may preclude unskilled work, because it prevents concentration.

For example, the claimant must show the ability to:

a. remember work-like procedures (locations are not critical).

b. understand and remember very short and simple instructions.

c. carry out very short and simple instructions.

d. maintain attention for extended periods of 2-hour segments (concentration is not critical).

e. maintain regular attendance and be punctual within customary tolerances. (These tolerances are usually strict.) Maintaining a schedule is not critical.

f. sustain an ordinary routine without special supervision.

g. work in coordination with or proximity to others without being (unduly) distracted by them.

h. make simple work-related decisions.

i. complete a normal workday and workweek without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms and perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods. (These requirements are usually strict.)

j. ask simple questions or request assistance.

k. accept instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors.

l. get along with coworkers or peers without (unduly) distracting them or exhibiting behavioral extremes.

m. respond appropriately to changes in a (routine) work setting.

n. be aware of normal hazards and take appropriate precautions.


As noted earlier, each one of these elements is necessary to perform unskilled work. If you cannot get along with coworkers, you cannot work at any job. Likewise, if you cannot complete an 8 hour work day without mental issues interfering with your day, you cannot work. One of the big issues on the job is distracting other employees. If you do this, you will definitely be let go from work. The same thing will happen if you cannot complete a normal work day due to mental illness. You will be fired. It is impossible to work if you cannot complete your shift. The boss can always hire someone else to fill your position if you don’t make it through an eight hour work day.

If your mental illness makes it impossible for your to do the above tasks, you have a disability. Therefore, you need to apply for disability benefits at the Social Security website.  It is important to hire a lawyer to help you file your application. Additionally, your lawyer can help you file an appeal if the SSA denies you benefits. Your future livelihood is at stake. You need monthly benefits to help you and your family pay the bills. This is an important decision. You need to choose a lawyer with experience. But, not just any legal experience. Choose a lawyer who specializes in disability law.


Cannon Disability has the experience you need. For example, our attorneys have won over 18,000 disability cases. Also, we have been practicing disability law for 30 years. We have won over 20,000 SSDI & SSI cases during that time. This amounts to over $100 million in disability benefits for our clients. Our specialty is obtaining Social Security disability benefits for our clients. Think about it. You do not want to hope that your lawyer knows what they are doing. Trust your future income to a law firm who wins disability cases every day.

If you need help with a Social Security Disability or SSI case contact us today. Information about Utah benefits can be found on this website under Utah Disability Information. Likewise, we have Nevada Disability Information. Also, California Disability Information can be found here. You should contact Cannon Disability Law. We can help you win disability benefits. Additionally, we can help you appeal a denial of benefits from the SSA. Also, we appeal cases to the Appeals Council and to Federal Court. Contact us today. We will evaluate your case for free. If we can help you, then we will.

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