SSA Makes Changes to the SSDI Jobs List



Along with Social Security, the Social Security Administration (SSA) administers disability benefits as well.

Though the SSA uses a simple and transparent process to determine a person’s eligibility for SSDI, it continuously works to improve it to ensure it stays relevant. In line with this, the SSA recently made changes to the SSDI jobs list to remove outdated jobs.

What’s the need?

The SSA uses a person’s medical records and ability to work when determining their Social Security disability benefits. If a claimant is unable to perform their last job, the SSA takes into account a person’s age, education, and work experience to determine if they are fit for other specific jobs.

If the SSA believes the claimant is fit for another job, including unskilled jobs, it could result in the rejection of their SSDI claim. For this, the SSA uses a jobs database to determine if the claimant can still work.

Over the years, critics have called this database unfair and flawed, as it was last updated in 1977. Also, it includes several jobs that are now obsolete, such as pneumatic tube operator, microfilm processor, and nut sorter.

This jobs database comes from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), a publication developed by the Labor Department in 1938. The Labor Department, which used the DOT to define different types of work, stopped using it more than thirty years ago and migrated to a new system.

However, the SSA still uses it in social security disability cases. The Washington Post recently highlighted the case of a disability applicant whose claim was rejected because the jobs he was asked to do effectively no longer exist.

This played a significant role in forcing the SSA to make changes to the SSDI jobs list. The changes to the jobs list will apply to both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

“It makes sense to identify occupations that now exist in very limited numbers in the national economy,” Martin O’Malley, Commissioner of Social Security, said. “By making this update, our decision makers will no longer cite these jobs when denying a disability application.”

Changes to the SSDI jobs list

On June 24, the SSA officially announced that it would be removing obsolete or seldom performed jobs from the list of jobs for the SSDI and SSI applicants. In all, the SSA dropped 114 occupations, which includes over 12,000 types of jobs.

Now, the SSA won’t be able to reject an applicant by citing any of these jobs. Also, the SSA said that it will now only take into account most relevant occupations when determining whether an applicant can work or not.

Some of the jobs that were removed from the list are Canary breeder, Character impersonator, Directory assistance operator, Dowel inspector, Egg processor, Historian of the dramatic arts, Motion-picture projectionist, News wire-photo operator, Nut Sorter, Radiotelegraph operator, Railroad Telegrapher, Reptile farmer, and Watch repairer.

Visit this link to view the full list of jobs dropped.

In addition to making changes to the SSDI jobs list to remove outdated jobs, the SSA also identified 13 occupations in the list for which federal courts have questioned supporting evidence of a “not disabled” finding. The SSA has provided additional evidence for such occupations.

Visit this link to view those 13 occupations.

What it means for my Social Security disability claim

How the recent changes made to the SSDI jobs list affect your Social Security disability claim depends on how far along you are in the process. It is recommended that you talk to an SSD attorney to get a clear picture of how the updated jobs list affects your qualifications.

Those who haven’t filed for SSDI will be relieved to know that their qualification will no longer be affected by outdated job listings.

Along with future SSDI applicants, the recent changes are crucial for claimants who have faced repeated denials. Also, the changes mean more applicants will successfully qualify for benefits, which will help to reduce financial strain on many disabled Americans.

OIS – The next frontier

SSA’s changes to the SSDI jobs list are a positive step toward ensuring a more equitable system for evaluating disability claims. They also ensure that applicants are not unfairly judged based on outdated job opportunities.

However, this doesn’t mean that SSA’s system is foolproof. Continuous monitoring and further reforms are needed to address the broader systemic issues and modernize the whole process.

In fact, the SSA is working on a modern approach to make disability eligibility determinations. This new approach, called the Occupational Information System (OIS), will replace DOT as the primary source of occupational information when deciding disability claims.

The SSA describes OIS as a “collection of occupational data from multiple sources that will be housed, accessed, and operationalized through an online platform called the Vocational Information Tool (VIT).” It has been in development since 2008 but has yet to be implemented.

When the SSA started developing OIS, the goal was to support current policy with minimal change. However, as work on the OIS progressed, the SSA realized that major policy changes would be needed to ensure OIS works efficiently. In addition to major policy changes, large-scale national surveys and proper testing are holding the launch of OIS.



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