The Washington Post’s Lisa Laing shared stories of people who were denied benefits because Social Security claimed they could do jobs like nut sorters, egg processors and dowel pin inspectors. Also includes microfilmers, phone estimators, bag repairers, tube operators, eyeglass frame polishers, printed circuit board touch-up screeners, and light fixture stem mounters. Appeal courts increasingly reverse these decisions. These decisions are based on jobs that no longer exist or are not really available because they are now automated or offshored.
All this shows the embarrassing inability of the bureaucracy to modernize its professional system. After abandoning its Depression-era occupational nomenclature dictionary in 1991, the Labor Department developed a new job database by his 1998. But after he studied the system for ten years, Social Security decided in 2008 that this was not fit for purpose. It took another four years for the agency to contract the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the Department of Labor, to design another system.
The good news is that after various delays, this system has been built. It is based on a national sample of 60,000 employers and 440 occupations covering approximately 95% of the economy. Bad news: Social Security doesn’t instruct staff how to use it. Social Security Commission Deputy Kiroro Kijakaji declined to be interviewed about why her agency had not yet implemented a good alternative, and a spokesperson for the agency said it had no timeline for using up-to-date data. I did not answer Mr. Rhine’s question about
For more than 20 years, Kijakazi has been one of six deputy commissioners in addition to the three confirmed leaders in the Senate. To the Trump administration’s credit, the last commissioner actually confirmed tried to fix the problem, but he was fired by President Biden after he marginalized advocates for the elderly and disabled. Specifically, this Commissioner, Andrew Sole, wants to use modern employment data to make the case for people with disabilities learning new skills and working in an economy that offers more sedentary jobs. was
Social Security will pay for the Bureau of Labor Statistics to update the new job vacancy database every five years, although it is no longer in use. Auditors have found that the next phase, due to start in 2023, will cost him $167 million. But Rhine reported that he had not been briefed on the project for at least three years. It’s time for Biden to name a commissioner who can lead the Social Security Administration into his 21st century.
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