Obsolete Jobs Led to Disability Benefit Denials

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

While there are people in critical need of disability benefits, the path to receiving benefits can be a bumpy one, to say the least. There are forms to complete and records to submit. Due to the fact that the majority of applicants are initially denied, there is often an appeal that will need to be filed. Some applications are denied due to lack of medical records. Others are denied because a form was improperly completed. Other times, an applicant may even be denied for reasons beyond his or her control. Did you know, for instance, that there are thousands of Social Security disability benefits applicants that are denied each year due to obsolete jobs? Let us explain the problem in more detail here.

Obsolete Jobs Lead to Disability Benefit Denials

In the event that the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies a claimant’s application for disability benefits, the applicant has the option to file an appeal in court before an administrative law judge. As part of the process, it must be determined whether there are any jobs the claimant could still work in light of his or her disabling condition or conditions. To find any such jobs, the SSA turns to a guide known as the “Dictionary of Occupational Titles.” If there is a job the claimant could work that is listed in this guide, then he or she will be denied benefits.

The problem comes down to the fact that the Dictionary of Occupational Titles has not been updated since 1991. Think of how much things have changed and how technology has advanced since then. While a claimant may be qualified for a job listed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, the job listing may very well have been rendered obsolete over the course of the past three decades. Unfortunately, the vocational witnesses called to testify as to the existence of jobs available that a claimant could work will still testify that such obsolete occupations are still readily available. There is a problem in the vocational witness’s failure to testify as to real-world job opportunities that may be listed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, but would be difficult to actually find because they have been rendered obsolete.

Because of the disconnect between the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, vocational expert testimony, and the real-world availability of jobs, claimants are being denied because they could do work such as be an envelope stuffer. While it may be true that a claimant could be effective in such a role, there is little to no demand for such work as there are machines that do this instead. When a vocational expert steps in to testify as to the validity of such career options and whether such job positions exist in the national economy in a significant number, the vagueness of such a directive and the inaccuracy of vocational witness testimony can easily lead to a denial of benefits to which a claimant would otherwise be entitled.

Los Angeles Disability Attorney

There are so many Americans that need disability benefits. In fact, about 10 million Americans apply for such benefits each year. Unfortunately, too many are wrongfully denied access to these much-needed benefits for reasons such as obsolete job listings. Let the team at Disability Advocates help you. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.