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Dec 19 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Department of Labor, invites comment by February 17, 2023 regarding its proposal to conduct the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) for 2023-2026.

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is a nationwide survey that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is conducting at the request of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Three years of data collection and capture for the ORS will start in 2023 and end in mid-2026. Estimates produced from the data collected by the ORS will be considered by the SSA to update occupational requirements data used in administering the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.

The ORS occupational information will allow SSA adjudicators to associate the assessment of a claimant's physical and mental functional capacity and vocational profile with work requirements. BLS will compute percentages of workers with various characteristics, such as skill and strength level. SSA will use this information to provide statistical support for the medical-vocational rules used during the assessment process regarding the number of jobs that exist at each occupational requirement level in the national economy.

The Social Security Administration, Members of Congress, and representatives of the disability community have all identified collection of updated information on the requirements of work in today's economy as crucial to the equitable and efficient operation of the Social Security Disability (SSDI) program.

The ORS collects data from a sample of employers. Collected work data consist of occupational task lists, defined as the critical job function and key job tasks, to validate the reported requirements of work.

Office of Management and Budget clearance is being sought for the Occupational Requirements Survey.

The ORS collects data on the requirements of work, as defined by the SSA's disability program:

(1) Education, Training and Experience, measures include an indicator of “time to proficiency,” defined as the amount of time required by a typical worker to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the facility needed for average job performance. This indicator is comparable to the Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) used in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT).

(2) Physical Demands, characteristics/factors of occupations, measured in such a way to support SSA disability determination needs. These measures are comparable to measures in Appendix C of the Selected Characteristics of Occupations (SCO).

(3) Environmental Conditions, measured in such a way to support SSA disability determination needs, comparable to measures in Appendix D of the SCO.

(4) Mental and Cognitive Demands, measures include work setting, review, pace, in addition to personal contacts.

The ORS also collects the following supporting data to validate reported requirements: Occupational task lists, defined as the critical job function and key job tasks, to validate the reported requirements of work. These task lists are comparable to data identified in the Employment and Training Administration's (ETA) Occupational Information Network (O*NET) Program.

BLS is seeking approval to increase the ORS sample size to mitigate the impact of non-response on survey estimates and ensure sufficient data are collected, to support the final ORS estimates. Changes in survey questions and materials to increase survey efficiency and improve estimates are also included in this request.

Several changes are being implemented in the survey questions and materials from the previous ORS 3-year production clearance. The changes outlined below are based on the results of testing and the needs of the SSA. Testing included focus groups, a structured cognitive test, and a field test as detailed in Part B, Attachment 20. The changes are being made to increase survey efficiency and improve estimates. The forms and respondent materials used for the ORS collection were updated to be more user friendly and reflect the following changes:

Removed the separate question capturing time spent using a traditional keyboard. The time spent keyboarding will now be captured as fine manipulation.
Removed the question measuring the requirement to hear and understand other sounds.
Revised the frequency scale for work checked by a supervisor or lead worker.
Removed the question measuring problem-solving.
Removed the question measuring the requirement for verbal, work-related interactions.
Removed the question measuring the requirement to work with the general public.
Added a question measuring the frequency of verbal interactions with individuals internal to the organization, including co-workers and supervisors.
Added a question measuring the frequency of verbal interactions with the general public or individuals external to the organization.
Added a question measuring whether workers are required to work in a setting where contact with a member of the general public is likely to occur.
Added a question measuring the requirement to adapt to work schedule variability.

The following changes are also being made to ORS survey measurements to improve consistency, and reduce collection and review burden:

Combined Licenses and Certifications into one Non-Degree Credential Category.
Combined Associates and Vocational Associates into one Minimum Education Category.
Added a Separate Category for Apprenticeships.

BLS will disseminate the data from the ORS on the BLS public website (www.bls.gov/​ors). The design uses a five-year rotation with complete estimates published after the full sample has been collected in July 2028 with final estimates published no later than the second quarter of FY 2029. Interim results will be produced and disseminated on an annual basis.

ORS collection uses several forms for private industry and government collection. Only one form version is used per interview based on what best meets an individual field economist's note taking needs for a given interview.

ORS data are defined to balance SSA's adjudication needs with the ability of the respondent to provide data. With this clearance, BLS is continuing collection of existing data.

ORS: https://www.bls.gov/ors/
Draft survey instruments and technical documentation for 2023-2026: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/tu6ev664px3y7wiz5xlas/h?dl=0&rlkey=yolhl89gum7jvnhjzz4xe65z3
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-27407

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