When reviewing applications for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration consults an obsolete directory last updated in 1977, despite having spent $250 million on a newer, more relevant one.The SSA relies on a 45-year-old job titles database, filled with jobs like “Document Preparer, Microfilming,” “Telephone Quotation Clerk” and “Nut Sorter” to deny thousands of claims a year, The Washington Post reported.
When disabled Americans apply for SSA disability benefits, they can have their applications denied if the agency finds that they can still work in a job title listed in their directory. But many of those jobs don’t exist anymore or exist in far fewer numbers as work has become more automated, The Post reported.
Jobs like sorting nuts, inspecting dowels, and processing eggs are done by machines, yet those jobs are still listed in the old directory and used to reject claims.
And that’s after the SSA spent $250 million since 2012 to build a new directory of 21st century jobs, with the cost expected to reach $300 million.
“Social Security is not using it, leaving antiquated vocational rules in place to determine whether disabled claimants win or lose,” The Post reported. The agency hasn’t explained why it doesn’t use the interactive system with new data collected by Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Other obsolete job titles the agency uses to determine if disabled workers can find jobs include “Call-Out Operator,” “Film Touch-Up Inspector,” “Sack Repairer,” “Tube Operator,” and “Polisher, Eyeglass Frames.”
Kevin Liebkemann, a New Jersey attorney who trains disability attorneys and has written extensively on Social Security’s use of vocational data, told The Post, “It’s a great injustice to these people. We’re relying on job information from the 1970s to say thumbs-up or thumbs-down to people who desperately need benefits. It’s horrifying.”
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