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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

What Do The Number Of Jobs In The Economy Mean?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Nov 01, 2018 | 0 Comments

At your Social Security disability hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is likely to turn to a vocational expert (VE) to answer two questions. The first question is whether you can return to any of the work you have done in the past 15 years. If the VE says no to that one, the next ALJ question will be is there any work available to you.

Jobs, Codes, Numbers

In response to this latter query, the VE will probably name two or three different jobs that the VE thinks you can perform. The VE will give the job title, its Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) code, and the number of jobs available nationwide for that job.  A sample VE opinion might be that you could do any of the following:

Title :                         DOT:                              Skill/Exertion:                               Nationwide Number Of Jobs:

Counter Clerk           249 366 010                    Light/Unskilled                           160,000

Rental Clerk             295 357 018                     Light/Unskilled                             92,000

Laminator                569 686 046                      Light/Unskilled                             82,000

If the ALJ concurs that you could do any of these jobs, she is going to find that you are not disabled. So, what does the number of jobs available in the nationwide economy mean?

Essentially, nothing.

Fuzzy Math?

Nope, Still No Photofinishing Clerks

If you are of a tender age, you might recall an accusation of fuzzy math in a bygone election.  Fuzzy math looks like Einsteinian physics compared to what VE's come up with. In might not be completely accurate to say that the numbers of jobs that VE's testify to are fictional. But it's close. 

Most VE's use one or another computer program that spits out the numbers they recite to the ALJ. But, if you poke around a little to get the basis of these numbers, you are going to come up empty. In truth, no one has any idea how many counter clerks are working in the United States. Nor is there any meaningful reason why there are 160,000 Counter Clerks and only 92,000 Rental Clerks.  

The Absurdity Is Hiding In Plain Sight

Look closer and you will see the absurdity. The Counter Clerk referenced above is in the photofinishing business.  If you are below age 30, you probably don't know that this used to be a real job. People took pictures on something called film and took that film to a store to have it turned in actual

Gimme Those Numbers Again

photographs. When was the last time you, or anyone you know, took film to a store to be processed into pictures? Probably not this century. Yet, a VE can claim that there are 160,000 of these jobs in the nationwide economy.  

Renting furniture, unlike processing film, is still a real thing. Yet, the furniture rental clerk occupation has almost 70,000 fewer jobs than an occupation that no longer exists.

Get the idea?

Nonsense Is The Only Option

So, why do we endure such nonsense in such a serious setting? Because there is no other option. There is no other way to process the millions of outstanding disability claims without this charade. Assume that you recognize that the VE's numbers in this example are lunacy. You object. The ALJ will either overrule your objection or just keep pushing the VE to give him other jobs with other made up numbers. 

When you are at your Social Security disability hearing and you learn that there are 750,000 Americans out there making buggy whips, just go with it. There is not much you can do about it.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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