19. If I can do more than sedentary work and the Grid says I am disabled, how does DES assess my disability (Step 4)?

If you are physically able to do more than sedentary work, DES determines whether there is a significant amount of full-time work in the Northeast economy that you could do even with your impairments. 106 C.M.R. ยง 703.193(C)(6).

In deciding if you are disabled at Step 4, DES is supposed to consider:

  • full-time jobs that exist in the Northeast only (a possible factory job in the South doesn't count);
  • your "functional capacity" (what you can do physically and for how long, and what your condition prevents you from doing);
  • your age, and how it affects your ability to adjust to changes in the work routine or environment;
  • your education, including formal education, training and literacy;
  • your ability to read, speak and understand English;
  • any work skills you have that you could use in a job (known as "transferable skills"); and
  • how long since you finished school or training or since you last worked.

DES uses vocational experts to review this information. If there is not a significant amount of work that you can do based on these factors, DES must find you disabled.