“Whatever it does, machines now do it,” said Hurd, who lives on food stamps and a small stipend from his parents in a subsidized apartment in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Turns out I couldn’t sort out the nuts, I spilled them all over the floor.”
He hoped that an administrative law judge hearing claims for benefits of $1,300 to $1,700 per month would understand his limitations.
But the judge agreed that Hurd had multiple severe disabilities, but denied benefits and wrote that he had “employment opportunities” in three largely obsolete occupations, writing that 130,000 Agree with experts’ dubious claims that positions are still available, picking nuts, inspecting dowels, and processed eggs.
Each year, thanks to labor market data last updated 45 years ago, thousands of applicants like Hurd are blocked in this crucial final step in the arduous process of applying for disability benefits. I notice that.
Jobs are detailed in a comprehensive publication known as the Occupational Title Dictionary. Most of the 12,700 entries were last updated in 1977. The Department of Labor, which originally produced the index, abandoned the index 31 years ago as a sign of the economy’s shift from blue-collar manufacturing to information and services.
However, Social Security still relies on it for the final stages when claims are reviewed. Governments use strict occupational rules to assess someone’s ability to work and whether there are a “significant number” of jobs still available. The dictionary remains the backbone of his $200 billion disability system that benefits 15 million people.
It lists 137 unskilled sedentary jobs, jobs that best match the skills and limitations of those applying for disability benefits. , outsourced and transitioned to skilled work decades ago.
Since the 1990s, social security officials have considered ways to amend the occupation list to reflect the jobs that actually exist in the modern economy, according to audits and interviews. Over the past 14 years, the agency has asked courts, claimants, government oversight bodies, and Congress to improve the quality of decisions on two million disability cases by introducing new, state-of-the-art systems that characterize modern work. It has been promised that it will be available soon. per year.
But since 2012, after spending at least $250 million to create a directory of jobs for the 21st century, according to an internal fact sheet, Social Security hasn’t used it, and it’s been used by disabled applicants. It leaves in place the outdated professional rules for determining who wins or loses. Social Security estimates the initial cost of the project to reach about $300 million.
Kevin Liebkemann, a New Jersey attorney who trains disability attorneys and has written extensively on Social Security’s use of occupational data, said: “We’re giving pros and cons to people in desperate need of benefits based on job postings from the 1970s. Horrible.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the Department of Labor, has built a new interactive system for social security using a national sample of 60,000 employers and 440 occupations covering 95% of the economy. But Social Security has yet to direct staff to use it.
“They tell us regularly about their plans to use the data,” Hillary Simpson, the Labor Department’s vice chair for compensation and working conditions, said of social security officials. The collection and estimation “goes through extensive testing and uses best-in-class statistical methods,” he said. The survey is published on the Department of Labor website.
Social Security has not explained why it has not yet conducted a Labor Department investigation.
Deputy Social Security Commissioner Kiroro Kijakaji declined to be interviewed. In her statement she said: We bring together occupational experts to provide more detailed and up-to-date information on jobs available in the national economy. [the Bureau of Labor Statistics] It best reflects the current job market. “
An agency spokesperson declined to answer questions about the timeline for using the latest data.
According to current and former employees, auditors, and disability advocates, Social Security’s delay in updating its database of positions is due to conflicting political considerations, leadership changes, and large-scale federal projects. It’s rooted in drifts that can ruin it.
The modern job list will create new winners and losers in the application process, bringing political sensitivity to a program that has long drawn the judgment of governments as too or too generous. Over the years, Social Security has been headed by six alternate commissioners and just three Senate-approved leaders. I believe that has a motive for delaying the project.