Thursday, February 16, 2017

Call-Out Operator (DOT 237.367-014) No Longer Exists


The question today is whether the often cited occupation of a call-out operator continues to exist in the national economy.  Vocational experts cite this occupation in response to hypothetical questions with sedentary exertion and occasional use of the hands.  We start with the concept of administrative notice.

The Commissioner takes administrative notice of the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH).  20 C.F.R. § 404.1566(d)(5).  The regulation does not differentiate between the DOT and the OOH age as a source of reliable occupational data of which the Commissioner "will" take administrative notice.  No valid reason exists for comparing vocational expert testimony to the DOT (25 years out-of-date and out-of-print) and refusing to compare vocational expert testimony to the OOH (up-to-date, in print, and available online with its companion publications).

The OOH classifies financial clerks in a broad group of 10 smaller groups.  Included in that broad group is the occupational cluster of credit authorizes, checkers, and clerks.  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Financial Clerks, The small group designation for credit authorizes, checkers, and clerks bears the SOC code designation of 43-4041.  Id.  

For more information, the OOH refers users to the O*NET, including credit authorizers; credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks; and credit checkers.  Id.  The O*NET for SOC code 43-4041.00, credit authorizes, checkers, and clerks makes clear that it operates as a superset for two more precise designations: credit authorizers (SOC code 43-4041.01); and credit checkers (SOC code 43-4041.02).  O*NET OnLine, Summary Report for: 43-4041.00 - Credit Authorizes,Checkers, and Clerks, OOH states that the occupational group represents 46,100 jobs in the nation; the O*NET describes employment at an even 46,000 jobs. 
  
The sub-group of credit authorizes (SOC code 43-4041.01) contains a single DOT code of credit authorizer (DOT 249.367-022).  O*NET OnLine, Custom Report for: 43-4041.01 - Credit Authorizers.  The O*NET reports the same number of jobs – 46,000 employees.  O*NET OnLine, Detail Report for: 43-4041.01 - Credit Authorizers.  The O*NET describes the occupation as requiring SVP 6 to 7.  Id. 

The sub-group of credit checkers (SOC code 43-4041.02) contains three DOT codes for credit reference clerk (DOT 209.362-018); call-out operator (DOT 237.367-014); and investigator (DOT 241.267-030).  O*NET OnLine, Custom Report for: 43-4041.02 - Credit Checkers.  The O*NET reports the same number of jobs – 46,000 employees.  O*NET OnLine, Detail Report for: 43-4041.02 - Credit Checkers.  The O*NET describes the occupation as requiring SVP 4 to < 6.  Id.  

It is clear and without a doubt that the DOT classified the occupation of a call-out operator as requiring sedentary exertion, reasoning level 3, and SVP 2 (unskilled) in 1991, with a date last updated reference of 1977.  DICOT 237.367-014.  The Commissioner takes administrative notice of that fact.  It is equally clear and without a doubt that the economy has changed slightly in the last 40 years since the occupation was last updated by the Department of Labor for DOT purposes.  Labor now takes the position that the three occupations within the generic classification of credit checkers requires at least specific vocational preparation code 4 and less than 6, i.e. 5. The O*NET defines specific vocational preparation (SVP) in the same manner as the DOT.  O*NET OnLine Help, Specific VocationalPreparation (SVP).  Because the OOH incorporates the O*NET and the latter states clearly that unskilled credit checker work no longer exists.

A vocational expert owes the obligation to explain by reasonable evidence why it is appropriate to rely on a 1977 description of the occupation instead of a 2010 classification.   20 C.F.R. § 404.1566(d)(5).  Administrative notice establishes facts without evidence.  The O*NET establishes that the unskilled variety of this occupation does not exist. 

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