What Are the Chances of Getting Disability for a Cashier Who Can No Longer Work

Whether you'll be granted disability benefits may depend on what type of cashier you were.

By , J.D., University of Missouri School of Law

If you're unable to return to your job as a cashier for medical reasons, you may be entitled to disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). But you'll need to prove you can no longer work as a cashier and that you can't shift to another line of work.

How Your Occupation Affects Whether You'll Get Disability Benefits

It's important that Social Security accurately identify the requirements of your past work as a cashier, including its physical and mental demands. That's because one step in the disability process is deciding whether you can perform the duties of any of your past jobs. If Social Security decides that you can't meet the demands of your prior jobs (for instance because you can't stand more than two hours a day), the agency then will determine whether any other jobs exist in the U.S. that you can perform, based on your "residual functional capacity" (RFC). (RFC is an assessment of the maximum mental and physical abilities you retain in spite of your medical issues.) The job duties and skills you used at your cashier job will also affect whether Social Security will find that you're able to switch to another job.

Social Security disability hearings often include testimony from vocational experts (VEs) who use the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), a Department of Labor publication, along with their own professional experience to testify about various jobs and labor market conditions. The vocational expert is charged with classifying your past work and determining if jobs are available for individuals with certain mental or physical limitations.

Cashier Positions and the DOT

The Dictionary of Occupational Titles contains a number of different listings for cashiers. For each position, the DOT lists the duties, strength level, and Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP), or training, required to perform the job. Here are a few of the most frequently used titles for cashiers in the DOT:

Cashier-Checker, retail trade (DOT code: 211.462-014)

Duties: Operating cash register to itemize and totaling customer's purchase in retail, grocery, or department store setting; collecting cash, check, or credit card payments from customers and making change, if needed; counting money in cash drawer at beginning and end of shift; and stocking shelves and marking prices.

Strength: Light (Must be able to lift 20 pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, and stand six to eight hours)

SVP: 3 (Semi-skilled; Requires a training period of one to three months)

Cashier II (DOT code: 211.462-010)

Duties: Receiving payment from customers for goods or services and recording amounts received; making change and issuing receipts; providing cash refunds or store credit to customers for returned merchandise; and operating cash register and scanning items to record price. May work in cafeteria, hotel, restaurant, bar, service station or similar setting.

Strength: Light (Must be able to lift 20 pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, and stand six to eight hours)

SVP: 2 (Unskilled; Requires more than a short demonstration and up to one month of training)

Cashier I (DOT code: 211.362-010)

Duties: Also known as cash-accounting clerk, duties include receiving and disbursing funds and recording transactions in a business establishment or place of public accommodation; preparing bank deposit slips; disbursing cash and writing vouchers and checks in payment of company expenditures; posting data and account balances; operating office equipment including and check-writing machines; authorizing plant expenditures and purchases; and preparing payroll and paychecks.

Strength: Sedentary (Requires lifting 10 pounds occasionally, sitting at least six hours per day)

SVP: 5 (Skilled; Requires training period of six months to one year)

Cashier Positions and Social Security's Grid Rules

Whether your prior cashier job is classified as unskilled (SVP 1-2), semi-skilled (SVP 3-4) or skilled (SVP 5-6) can determine whether you're eligible for disability benefits under SSA's grid rules. The grid rules use a person's age, previous work experience, education, and residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether he or she is disabled. The grid rules generally come into play only in disability claims of those aged 50 and over.

Example: A 53-year-old male who does not have a high school education or GED and has only performed unskilled work as a retail Cashier-Checker will be automatically found disabled under the grids if he has been limited to sedentary work. First, being limited to sedentary work would mean that he couldn't do the job of cash-checker because it is classified as light work, meaning he would be standing six to eight hours each day. Second, the grids say that someone between 50 and 54 who is limited to sedentary work but only has a history of unskilled work is disabled.

On the other hand, if that individual had performed skilled work and acquired transferable skills from those jobs, he will not automatically be found disabled under the grids. However, he could still be awarded benefits if he could show that his RFC assessment shows that he could not do any full-time work.

In short, someone who has worked as a retail Cashier-Clerk has a better chance of getting disability benefits than someone who worked as a Cashier I. This is why it's important that Social Security understands exactly what your duties were at your last job, because your job title might not match the classification that the DOT uses.

Why Your Residual Functional Capacity Matters

Before deciding whether you can return to your position as a cashier, or perform any other jobs in the economy, Social Security must determine your RFC. Specifically, the adjudicator must assess your maximum ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, bend, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. Mental factors are also considered, including how long you can pay attention, how well you follow instructions, and how well you get along with coworkers, supervisors, and the public. Environmental restrictions dealing with weather, air quality, and noise are also taken into account in your RFC.

After assessing you with an RFC, Social Security will determine, with the help of a vocational expert, whether your RFC allows you to complete substantially all of the requirements of your prior job as a cashier, or any other jobs you may have held. If your RFC shows that you can't do your past work, SSA will consider whether any other jobs exist for individuals with your limitations. If not, you will be eligible for disability benefits based on a Medical-Vocational Allowance.

Contact a Disability Attorney

As we've seen, it's tremendously important for Social Security to classify your past work correctly, particularly with regards to the skill level. The best way to ensure this happens is to hire a Social Security disability attorney who understands how to develop vocational evidence and cross-examine vocational experts.

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