Saturday, December 31, 2016

Furniture Rental Consultants 295-357-018

Another -- you have got to be kidding me, right?  We are not allowed to ask a question like that during a Social Security administrative hearing.  But we want to ask, because the identification of the furniture rental consultant as representing 40,000 jobs in the nation doesn't make sense.  The reason that it doesn't make sense is that our commonsense is correct. 

Look at the occupation as it exists in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.  We can find the information on the web.  Here.  The occupation exists in the retail trade industry and it rents furniture and accessories. 

I rent cars on a regular basis -- several a year if not more.  If I wanted to fly or float, I would rent a plane or a boat, or just buy a ticket.  But I haven't rented furniture except when in college and don't know many people that do.  It isn't a big industry from a lay perspective.  But that is the beauty of taking judicial or administrative notice; we don't have to be experts to look stuff up.  Let's keep looking stuff up. 

Counter and rental clerks form a group of occupations because of their similar job duties under the O*NET as the Labor replacement to the DOT.  We can look at a detailed description of the occupation on the O*NET OnLine.  The work requires standing:

Spend Time Standing — How much does this job require standing?See more occupations related to this work context.
15     Continually or almost continually
32     More than half the time
34     About half the time
13     Less than half the time
The work is semi-skilled or less. 

"SVP Range(Below 4.0)"

So for those sit-stand, light, and unskilled jobs, this remains a candidate.  But honestly, how many are there? 

The O*NET reports 442,000 counter and rental clerk jobs, in 24 different occupations.  One of the 24 is the furniture rental consultant.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook reports 442,100. 

The OOH and the O*NET rely on the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The occupation-industry matrix lists all the Standard Occupational Classification groups.  The line for counter and rental clerks, SOC group 41-2021 generates an excel spreadsheet that breaks down the occupational group by industry.

The employment projections for 41-2021 agree -- the occupational group has 442,100 jobs.  Almost half are in the real estate and rental and leasing industry sector (NAICS 53000).  The employment projections state that the retail trade sector (NAICS 44-450000) has 87,900 jobs.  That is the industry group specified by the DOT, so let's stick with that. 

Within the retail trade sector, 46,500 jobs exist in the motor vehicle and parts dealers industry group (NAICS 441000).  The furniture and home furnishing stores employ 600.  (NAICS 442000).  Within the industry group, counter and rental clerks make up 0.1% to 0.2% of industry employment. 

Code Title Employment Percent of industry

TE1000 Total employment 442.1 0.3

44-450 Retail trade 87.9 0.6
441000 Motor vehicle and parts dealers 46.5 2.5

442000 Furniture and home furnishings stores 0.6 0.1
Furniture stores
0.5 0.2

County Business Patterns provides industry employment data.  Sector 44 for retail trade (turn off LFO and noise flags) counts nationwide employment for the industry:

Compare AreasNAICS codeNAICS code descriptionPaid employees for pay period including March 12 (number)First-quarter payroll ($1,000)Annual payroll ($1,000)Total establishments

442 Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores 429,0733,026,40612,836,58450,595
4421 Furniture Stores 198,2201,668,0737,037,78623,567
44211 Furniture Stores 198,2201,668,0737,037,78623,567
442110 Furniture Stores 198,2201,668,0737,037,78623,567
4422 Home Furnishings Stores 230,8531,358,3335,798,79827,028
44221 Floor Covering Stores 63,011570,9822,513,66410,763
442210 Floor Covering Stores 63,011570,9822,513,66410,763
44229 Other Home Furnishings Stores 167,842787,3513,285,13416,265

Applying the employment projections percentage of employment yields 429 jobs as a furniture rental clerk; 386 of them in the furniture stores. 

That's it.  There are not and cannot be 40,000 or even 10,000 furniture rental clerks in the national economy.  There are less than 500. 


Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Nail in the Coffin - Surveillance Systems Monitor

A recurring question that comes up in Social Security disability hearings -- are there any sedentary unskilled jobs with occasional use of the hands?  I have heard the question and litigated the number of jobs -- several times.  The vocational experts have identified surveillance-systems monitor.  See Meanel v. Apfel and Beltran v. Astrue.  In Meanel, the vocational expert testified to 1,000 to 1,500 jobs in the Los Angeles region  as an SSM, which the court affirmed over statistical objection that the number was patently false.  In Beltran, the vocational expert testified to 1,680 jobs in the nation as an SSM, which the court found insignificant.  Not may case, but Golowach v. Colvin reports vocational expert testimony of 34,000 jobs -- a 2016 USDC decision out of New York.

Vocational experts give widely different numbers for what should be nothing more than a statistically knowable fact.  Opinions can vary an estimate but the numbers do not vary as the witnesses would have the agency and the courts believe.  The fact of the matter is that the occupation represents very few jobs, if any. 

The SSM is a low-level security job.  It is unskilled but carries a reasoning level of 3.  It isn't simple but it is unskilled.  The Selected Characteristics of Occupations Defined in the Revised Dictionary of Occupational Titles confirms the selected characteristics, including reaching, handling, and fingering.  But that doesn't give job numbers.  The DOT and SCO inform the world that the occupation existed in the wild at some point in time -- but how many?

The O*NET replaced the DOT.  The DOT was last updated in 1991.  The O*NET was last updated in 2010.  Pick your data source. 

The O*NET places the SSM occupation in two different SOC codes:

Surveillance-System Monitor. 379.367-010

The O*NET describes protective service workers, all other as representing 114,000 jobs.  It consists of 5 different DOT codes.  Aggregating and pretending that all the occupations represent roughly the same number of jobs, we get 22,800.  Golowach looks reasonable, if aggregation is the game. 

Protective service workers, all other includes the sub-group:

33-9099.02    Retail Loss Prevention Specialists

That code represents a single DOT code -- 376.137-010    Manager, Internal Security.  The O*NET says that this occupational group represents 114,000 jobs.  Following the aggregation model, we now divide by six.  Golowach is losing ground. 

The gaming surveillance officers doesn't add to the unskilled SSM total.  The O*NET reports that this occupational group represents work with a specific vocational preparation of 4 to < 6 -- the work is semi-skilled to skilled.  That excludes the unskilled SSM. 

Back to the DOT description, the DOT industry designation is government service.  Four of the occupations in the 33-9099 list share that industry designation -- government service.  The national employment matrix states that all levels of government employ 30,800 protective service workers, all other.  The federal government employs about 4,800 workers in 33-9099. 

The feds employ over 3,750 deputy marshals and criminal investigators.  That leaves a possible 1,000 SSM jobs at the federal level and only if there are no polygraph examiners in federal employment.  Whether states would employ SSMs in public transportation terminals is a reasonable question.  But states employ 7,300 workers in 33-9099.  Local government employs 18,700 workers in 33-9099 but that includes school bus monitors, community service patrol officers, and polygraph examiners. 

While it makes sense that transportation centers have eyes watching in this age of terrorism, the prospect that these are unskilled workers not trained in detecting suspicious behavior falls outside the pale of reasonable.  I have encountered vocational experts that refuse to identify this occupation because it does not exist as an unskilled occupation in significant numbers.  Until that trend becomes a universal truth, representatives will have the obligation to cross the errant, misinformed, or deceitful vocational experts to show their work statistically, not viscerally. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Obsolete Occupations

From time-to-time, vocational experts will assert the absurd.  I know, you already know that I believe that vocational experts say the absurd because the ALJ corps expects if not demands the absurd. 

OIDAP describes five occupations as obsolete.  From the report:

Limitations in Job Data – Step 5
Occupational and Medical-Vocational Claims Review Study

For claims denied at step 5, the adjudicator cites jobs that are
examples of the type of work a clamant can do. Our study
found a substantial number of cases where DDSs cited jobs
that might be obsolete. Examples of such jobs cited at step 5
in our study cases include:

•    Addresser (cited in 9.5% of step 5 denial cases)
•    Tube Operator (1.1%)
•    Cutter-and-Paster, Press Clippings (0.9%)
•     Host/Hostess, Head (0.8%)
•    Magnetic-Tape Winder (0.7%)

It is doubtful that these jobs, as described in the DOT, currently exist in
significant numbers in our economy.
If you have a vocational expert identify addresser; tube operator; cutter-and-paster of press clippings; host/hostess, head; or magnetic-tape winder, cross-examination must explore the existence of that work in the national economy and a post-hearing submission should include a copy of the OIDAP report. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Film Touch-Up Inspector, DOT 726.684-050, Occasional Decision-Making - You Can't Be Serious

Sometimes I just want to ask -- are you serious?  This comes from the files of the absolutely ridiculous.

ALJ asks and finds that the claimant has a mental impairment that leaves a youthful claimant with a residual functional capacity to engage in work activity that involves occasional decision-making.  The kind of RFC is relatively common in Social Security decisions.  Depending on the presence of other limitations, this kind of limitation can prove fatal to the ability to perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy. 

The vocational expert in this case identified two occupations that make no sense.  The vocational expert stated that the claimant could perform the occupation of a film touch-up inspector, DOT code 726.684-050.  The occupation title tells us that there is a problem -- inspector.  The DOT narrative describes the work functions as:

Inspects and repairs circuitry image on photoresist film (separate film or film laminated to fiberglass boards) used in manufacture of printed circuit boards (PCB's): Inspects film under magnifying glass for holes, breaks, and bridges (connections) in photoresist circuit image. Removes excess photoresist, using knife. Touches up holes and breaks in photoresist circuitry image, using photoresist ink pen. Removes and stacks finished boards for transfer to next work station. Maintains production reports. May place lint free paper between dry film sheets to avoid scratching circuit images on film.
The vocational expert stated that the claimant could perform the occupation of a touch-up screener, circuit board assembly, DOT code 726.684-110.  For this occupation, the title does not reveal the problem unless screener means that the work function includes screening product.    The DOT describes the work functions as:
Inspects printed circuit board (PCB) assemblies for defects, such as missing or damaged components, loose connections, or defective solder: Examines PCB's under magnification lamp and compares boards to sample board to detect defects. Labels defects requiring extensive repairs, such as missing or misaligned parts, damaged components, and loose connections, and routes boards to repairer. Performs minor repairs, such as cleaning boards with freon to remove solder flux; trimming long leads, using wire cutter; removing excess solder from solder points (connections), using suction bulb or solder wick and soldering iron; or resoldering connections on PCB's where solder is insufficient. Maintains record of defects and repairs to indicate recurring production problems. May reposition and solder misaligned components. May measure clearances between board and connectors, using gauges.
Inspectors inspect for conformance to standards.  Inspectors decide whether the product in front of him/her meet the employer's standards for sale or whether the product needs repair and to decide the nature and extent of those repairs.  The worker decides as the essential job function. 

Both occupations belong to the same Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) group, 51-9061 for inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers.  There are 782 different DOT codes within the group.   The O*NET confirms that the most important core function of this occupational group involves inspecting, testing, and measuring.  The O*NET informs that the typical work in this group covers specific vocational preparation (SVP) code of 4 to <6.  Ignoring that this occupational group has few if any unskilled work, these workers decide.  While the unskilled variety of inspectors may not make repair decisions, the inspectors decide that the manufacturing process produced a defective or deficient product, or that the product meets the standards. 

So why would a vocational expert offer inspector occupations to respond to a hypothetical question involving occasional decision-making?  These are sedentary occupations and the existence of unskilled sedentary work is increasingly rare.  The DOT lists these two technical-related occupations that are likely to survive out-sourcing and automation.  Inspectors check the automated process.  The knee-jerk reaction to identify some work is just wrong.  When the ALJ asks the vocational expert whether the testimony conforms to the DOT, the answer "yes" is at best irresponsible.  Vocational experts must offer the honest testimony that either the occupation is not appropriate or offer a reasonable explanation how and why inspectors don't have the clear job function of making a decision throughout the workday.