Posted on: July 10, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

The Social Security Administration Vocational Expert (SSAVE) relies on a highly educated background and at least five years of direct experience helping people with disabilities.  The SSAVE also relies on a wealth of data, growing more prevalent every day with the availability at their fingertips via internet search capability.  While some resources are more authoritative than others, the various methodologies employed by SSAVEs still roll back to their “professional experience.”  This term is loosely defined, as each SSAVE has a different “professional experience” than the next.

         The sources, however, do not vary.  The Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) present authoritative data on an annual basis – most notably the Occupational Outlook Handbook (and yes…there’s an app for that!. The other prime source the SSA recognizes is the DOT.  No…not that…this is the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.  SSAVEs use this tome in various capacities before becoming an SSAVE…and all know how outdated it is.  However, it is THE source for SSA decisions…for now.

         Why does this matter?  Simple…when basing a decision on the ability for an individual to perform work, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) must have an expert who has the latest and greatest information to present.  The DOT, while useful, hasn’t been updated since 1991.  This, coupled with the increase in reporting capability for the BLS as seen in the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) creates a divide in what professional experience gives as part of an SSAVE testimony when compared to factual data.

         So, what it the right answer? The answer given by an author of SSAVE descriptions years ago? A BPA holder? Who should one listen to when decided to A) enter the profession, or 2) develop in the profession?  Whether you use the DOT page by page, software such as Job Browser, Occubrowse, or Oasys to parse data rapidly, or rely on your professional experience, your answer may look like this…

It depends…

More on that in the future.  To fully understand the answer, we first need to understand the relationships.