Thursday, September 21, 2017

Counter Clerk (photofinishing) - Viewed Through the DOT

One of the most irritating jobs that vocational experts love to identify as light work with occasional use of the upper extremities.  More often than they should -- more than once ever -- we will see a vocational expert giving that occupation in response to an occasional interaction with other people.  We examine that claim through three data points:  the middle three digits of the DOT number; the physical requirements found in the SCO; and the temperaments in Labor's other files.

1.  The DOT

249.366-010 COUNTER CLERK (photofinishing)

    Receives film for processing, loads film into equipment that automatically processes film for subsequent photo printing, and collects payment from customers of photofinishing establishment: Answers customer's questions regarding prices and services. Receives film to be processed from customer and enters identification data and printing instructions on service log and customer order envelope. Loads film into equipment that automatically processes film, and routes processed film for subsequent photo printing. Files processed film and photographic prints according to customer's name. Locates processed film and prints for customer. Totals charges, using cash register, collects payment, and returns prints and processed film to customer. Sells photo supplies, such as film, batteries, and flashcubes.
GOE: 07.03.01 STRENGTH: L GED: R2 M2 L2 SVP: 2 DLU: 86
The narrative implies or explicitly states that this occupation involves working with the public.  OGC is dense and does argue that we can't infer more than occasional contact with other people.  That means the person isn't busy during the day and will then have other duties, i.e. a composite job.  Never underestimate how OGC will twist to save a bad ALJ decision from relying on false vocational expert testimony.  But we really want to look at those middle three digits:  data, people, things.
3.  Compiling
6. Speaking-Signalling
6. Feeding-Offbearing
The middle digit, the first 6, is the code for people.  See DOT Appendix B.  Since our mission involves contact with other people, we go there.
6 Speaking-Signaling: Talking with and/or signaling people to convey or exchange information. Includes giving assignments and/or directions to helpers or assistants.
That is the people function of counter clerks.  That is the core function, so core that it is coded straight into the DOT code for all to see without reading a long narrative.  The occupation involves speaking with people to exchange information.

2.  The SCO

The SCO describes the occupation of counter clerk as requiring occasional reaching, handling, and fingering but frequent talking and hearing.  Apparently the speaking code for the DOT number matches the selected characteristics of the occupation, communication is more important than physical function.  The SCO defines our terms:
12. TALKING
Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word to impart oral information to clients or to the public and to convey detailed spoken instructions to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly. In Part A, the rating for the Talking component appears second in the second set of Physical Demand ratings under the vertical
heading Ta.
Clients and the public are the object of sentence "counter clerks speak to ..."

13. HEARINGPerceiving the nature of sounds by ear. In Part A, the rating for the Hearing component appears third in the second set of Physical Demand ratings under the vertical heading He.
Counter clerks have to listen.  They aren't paid for pitch or detecting rattles, they are paid to listen to customers, frequently.

3.  Temperaments and the RHAJ

The files compiled by all services (West, SkillTran, US Publishing) describe counter clerks as having the temperament for P -- dealing with people.  The Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs, the taxonomy for the DOT and the SCO, defines dealing with people:
Dealing with PEOPLE: Involves interpersonal relationships in job situations beyond receiving work instructions.
Gets curious doesn't it.  Involves interpersonal relationships beyond receiving instructions.  Counter clerks have an essential job function of dealing with people.

We can now conclude that the DOT number conflicts with vocational testimony that counter clerks involve occasional or less interaction with the public; the narrative conflicts; the SCO requirements for talking and hearing conflict; and the temperament for dealing with people conflicts.  The ALJ has to resolve the conflicts.  And we know that vocational experts will say darn near anything to keep the gig at SSA going.

We addressed the number of these jobs in a prior blog.







Monday, September 18, 2017

Selected Characteristics -- Important Definitions of Environmental Demands

We have two or three years left of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and its primary companion, the Selected Characteristics of Occupations.  While we still have the DOT and its companion(s) as the first listed source of administrative notice in the Social Security disability context, we need to focus on the information available.

Over the weekend, we looked at physical demands that may not be obvious or are either counter-intuitive or opaque.  We can't frame a vocationally relevant language or understand the dialogue of between the ALJ and the VE if we don't speak their language.  We continue with the SCO Appendix D - environmental demands.  Six of the first seven come up frequently in ALJ hypothetical questions.
1.  Exposure to Weather -- the person works outside.  
Claimants that have sunlight sensitivity would look to exposure to weather as suggesting exposure to sunlight.
2.  Extreme Cold -- not weather related.
3.  Extreme Heat -- not weather related. 
Heat and cold have nothing to do with work in Arizona or Alaska.  They involve ovens and freezers.
4.  Wet and/or Humid --water, liquids, or non-weather humidity.  
Work environments that involve steam come to mind.  Cooking involves water and boiling, which create humidity.
5.  Noise Intensity Level --  noise exposure.
          3.  Moderate -- business offices, grocery stores, light traffic, and fast food restaurants at off-hours.  
 Most work environments are at least moderately noisy.  Libraries are quiet and deep sea diving are quiet and very quiet.
7.  Atmospheric Conditions -- fumes, noxious odors, dusts, mists, gases, and poor ventilation.  
Not obvious but atmospheric conditions address pulmonary and eye irritants.

The next seven environmental conditions address dangerous work environments.  ALJ's bring these up in hypothetical questions frequently.  But they rarely provide any fruitful source of examination.  There just aren't a lot of unskilled jobs that involve danger.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Selected Characteristics -- Important Definitions of Physical Demands

We have two or three years left of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and its primary companion, the Selected Characteristics of Occupations.  While we still have the DOT and its companion(s) as the first listed source of administrative notice in the Social Security disability context, we need to focus on the information available.

So let's look at some definitions that may not be obvious, counter-intuitive, or opaque.  Understanding what the terms mean enhances the ability to examine vocational experts.  We start with the SCO Appendix C - physical demands.
2. Climbing -- includes stairs and ramps and emphasizes activities requiring body agility.
3.  Balancing -- Activities where body equilibrium prevents falling.  
These two are informational.  The intuitive out there already knew them.
4.  Stooping -- bending downward and forward at the waist. 
The definition of stooping means that the phrase "bending and stooping" is both redundant and repetitive.
8.  Reaching -- using one or both hands and arms to extend in any direction.  
This definition of reaching implies that all pushing and pulling require reaching but that not all reaching involves pushing or pulling.
12.  Talking -- expressing oneself to clients or the public.
13.  Hearing -- perceiving the nature of sounds with the ear.   
These categories do not include ordinary communication required in work activity.  Talking is with the public.  Hearing concerns discernment of sound not involved in listening to the speaker.
15.  Near Acuity -- vision at 20 inches or less.
16.  Far Acuity -- vision at 20 feet or more.  
Now we have quantification!
 17.  Depth Perception -- three-dimensional vision.  
It isn't making an educated guess about distance based on size.  It is three-dimensional.
18.  Accommodation -- bringing the eye into sharp focus for near point work.  
Raises questions of near acuity at less than 20/20.
20.  Field of Vision -- perception horizontally and vertically.  
Constricted visual fields that do not meet the blindness listing impact this function.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Parimutuel-Ticket Checker 219.587-010 -- Sedentary Job Numbers

Parimutuel-Ticket Checker is one of those sedentary jobs that piques the interest of vocational experts to identify as sedentary unskilled work.  According to the DOT, the occupation exists in the amusement and recreation industry.  The DOT describes the occupation:

219.587-010 PARIMUTUEL-TICKET CHECKER (amuse. & rec.) alternate titles: ticket counter
    Counts and records number of parimutuel tickets cashed at race track to verify records of cashiers. Compares totals with entries on daily balance sheet. Compares each ticket with sample or examines tickets under fluorescent light to verify validity of tickets. Reports discrepancies.
GOE: 07.05.02 STRENGTH: S GED: R3 M3 L3 SVP: 2 DLU: 77
With reasoning, math, and language level 3, the occupation is not simple.  One obvious fact that jumps out from the DOT -- this work occurs at the race track and therefore is not year around work.

The O*NET puts this occupation in Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, SOC 43-3031.  The occupation group requires some college and moderate-term on-the-job training per the OOH.  The occupational group is not unskilled and not available for a person with a high school or less education.

Of the 1,760,300 Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, 14,000 work in the amusement, gambling, and recreation industries per the Employment Projections linked in the OOH.  That is NAICS code 713000, an industry subsector.  The EP tells us that the gambling industries (except casino hotels) employ 1,700 Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, or 1.3% of total industry employment.  When we dig a little deeper into the NAICS codes, we find that this is not the right industry grouping.  The Census Bureau lists all manner of racetracks -- dogs, horses, automobiles, and others -- under NAICS code 711212.  The EP tells us that NAICS code 711200, spectator sports, employs 1,200 Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, or 0.9% of total industry employment.

County Business Patterns states that industry 711212, racetracks, had 639 establishments employing 42,728 people in all occupations.  Other industries in group 711200 are sports teams and clubs (NAICS 711211) and other spectator sports (NAICS 711219).  There are no other six-digit industry codes inside of 711200.

2012 NAICS codeMeaning of 2012 NAICS codeYearNumber of establishmentsPaid employees for pay period including March 12 (number)
7112                Spectator sports              20154,315                          128,273                                                                         
711211Sports teams and clubs               20151,004                          68,884
711212Racetracks                                  2015639                             42,728                                                                           
711219Other spectator sports                 20152,672                         16,661                                                                           

Call it 1% just to make the math easy.  There are less than 430 parimutuel-ticket checkers and all other forms of bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks that work in the racetracks industry.  

As always, check out the work context report for the O*NET for further information.  And remember, the ORS is coming.  

When to Cross-Examine Vocational Experts

I spend a lot of time pointing to the fallacy of most vocational expert testimony.  But that doesn't mean that the able representative should cross-examine the vocational expert in every instance about everything that is said.  The representative has to know when to bring out the long knives and when to bring out the scalpel.

Assume a younger individual limited to light exertion, standing and walking four hours in a day, simple work, and capable of occasional postural activities; limited education; and an unskilled work background.  The claimant cannot perform past relevant work.  The vocational expert identifies garbage numbers of assembly jobs that don't exist in significant numbers, and cashiers that require more complex reasoning.  If the intrepid representative knocks out all those occupations -- and clearly could -- where does that leave the claimant?  There might be light work with limited standing/walking and also SRT.  So what?  The claimant has a large swath of sedentary work available and that limited range of light work.  There is work and the statistics won't allow the claimant to get to no work by attacking the job numbers methodology.

The representative needs additional tools.  We can knock out the cashiering jobs as requiring reasoning level 3 (DOT for 211.462-010 CASHIER II) and the assembly positions as requiring a high school education and typically semi-skilled today (OOH for SOC 51-9199).  But the Commissioner assumes the presence of a significant number of jobs in the sedentary range and the hypothetical person grids as "not disabled" (Appendix 2, Rule 201.18).  Knocking out light work may be fun and good in the sport of discrediting the vocational expert, but it doesn't win the case.

The task at hand requires a different question of the vocational expert.  Has the ALJ omitted a mental limitation; a manipulative limitation; a side-effect of medication; or something else that erodes the occupational base?  Here is my list of DOT codes where the OOH classifies the work group as having no educational requirement and short-term training:
DOT
DOT TITLE
 RML
SOC
DOT CODES
OOH JOBS


 529.665-014
 WASHROOM OPERATOR                        (sugar & confection)
211
 51-9192
43
419,200
 692.685-254
 WINDOW-SHADE-RING SEWER     
 (furniture)
211
 51-6031
128
153,900
 713.687-034
 POLISHER, IMPLANT                             (optical goods)
211
 51-9022
66
15,800
 739.684-162
 UMBRELLA TIPPER, HAND                   (fabrication, nec)
211
 51-6051
21
12,000
 754.684-018
 BIT SHAVER                                         (fabrication, nec)
211
 51-9022
66
29,900
 775.687-022
 GOLD BURNISHER                                 (pottery & porcelain)
211
 51-9022
66
29,900
 782.687-046
 SACK REPAIRER                                           (any industry)
211
 51-6031
128
153,900
 521687-010
 ALMOND BLANCHER, HAND              
(canning & preserving)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 529.687-138
 LEAF TIER                                               (tobacco)
111
 53-7062
48
2,441,300
 559.687-014
 AMPOULE SEALER                      (pharmaceuticals)
211
 53-7064
59
695,400
 683.687-018
 HANDER-IN                       
(narrow fabrics)
211
 51-9198
553
419,200
 685.687-014
 CUFF FOLDER                                      (knitting)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 690.686-046
 PLASTIC-DESIGN APPLIER                       (boot & shoe)
111
 53-7063
291
104,200
 690.686-066
 TOGGLE-PRESS FOLDER-AND-FEEDER   (boot & shoe)
111
 53-7063
291
695,400
 694.686-010
 CLIP-LOADING-MACHINE FEEDER (ordnance)
111
 53-7063
291
695,400
 712.687-034
 SUTURE WINDER, HAND                      (protective devices)
211
 51-9198
553
236,200
 715.687-090
 MOTOR POLARIZER                                  (clock & watch)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 734.687-086
 SPLITTER, HAND                                    
 (button & notion)
111
 51-9031
98
15,800
 737.587-010
 BANDOLEER STRAIGHTENER-STAMPER (ordnance)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 770.687-026
 JEWEL STRINGER                                       (clock & watch)
211
 51-9198
553
419,200
 779.687-038
 WAXER                                                           (glass products)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 782.687-030
 PULLER-THROUGH                                     (glove & mitten)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 784.687-026
 ENDBAND CUTTER, HAND 
 (hat & cap)
211
 51-9031
98
15,800
 788.687-022
 BUCKLER AND LACER                                
(boot & shoe)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 788.687-114
 SHANK TAPER                                             (boot & shoe)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 789.687-174
 THREAD SEPARATOR                                
(textiles, other)
111
 51-9198
553
419,200
 920.687-030
 BANDER, HAND                                               
(tobacco)
211
 53-7064
59
695,400
 976.684-018
 MOUNTER, HAND                                 
(photofinishing)
211
 51-9031
98
63,600

Friday, August 25, 2017

Cashiers and the Sit-Stand Option is Not Generally Available

Assume the claimant needs the opportunity to change positions every 10, 15, 30, 45 minutes, or just simply at will.  The vocational expert will likely identify the occupation of cashier II.  This occupation is a go-to for the lazy vocational expert.  With 3.4 million jobs in various cashiering occupations in the nation, a lot of them are unskilled and it is intuitive that cashiers can sit and stand at will, right?  Life is counter-intuitive.

The Occupational Requirements Survey is coming.  The ORS tells us about cashiers and the sit-stand at will option:

Occupational Requirements Survey


Series Title:Civilian workers; % of cashiers; sitting vs. standing/walking at will is not allowed
Series ID:ORUP1000066700000140
Seasonality:Not Seasonally Adjusted
Survey Name:Occupational Requirements Survey
Measure Data Type:Percentage
Industry:All workers
Occupation:Cashiers
Class of Worker:All workers
Requirements:Physical Requirement
Type of cases:Sitting vs. standing/walking at will

Latest Observation:
Annual 2016

93.0

Annual 2016 - Annual 2016
Minimum Value: Annual 2016
93.0
Maximum Value: Annual 2016
93.0
Data Availability:
2016 - 2016

The ORS tells us that 93% of jobs within the cashier occupation do not allow the opportunity to sit and stand at will.  

More bad news for the cashier occupation from the ORS. The number of jobs that require more than ≤ one month of training is 81.3%.  The 10th percentile of jobs having days of prior work experience is 90 days.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook tells us that this occupational group typically has no education requirement and short-term training.  The ORS is coming.