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. 


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