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Occupational Requirements Survey

General Questions and Answers

  1. What is the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS)?

    ORS provides information about the requirements of work in the national economy conducted under an interagency agreement with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Job requirements within the scope of ORS include:

    • Physical demands of work (such as keyboarding, reaching overhead, lifting or carrying)
    • Environmental conditions (such as extreme heat, exposure to outdoors, proximity to moving parts)
    • Education, training, and experience requirements (prior work experience, on-the job training, and license requirements)
    • Cognitive and mental requirements of work (such as degree of interaction, degree of work independence, degree of work review)
  2. Why is the ORS being conducted?

    SSA uses five steps of Sequential Evaluation to determine whether disability applicants qualify for benefits. At steps 4 and 5 of this process, adjudicators need information about a representative sample of occupations in the national economy to determine whether people with functional limitations resulting from severe impairments can still perform work. Currently, SSA uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) at steps 4 and 5, and it has not been updated in more than 20 years. SSA is developing an Occupational Information System to replace the DOT which will incorporate the data collected through ORS. This information is crucial to the equitable and efficient operation of SSA‘s disability programs.

  3. What are some potential uses of ORS data?

    The ORS data are used by a wide variety of audiences, including but not limited to, jobseekers, researchers, insurance companies, the disability community, and vocational experts. Additional information on the different uses are available in the Handbook of Methods.

  4. How often is ORS data published?

    The ORS collects and releases data on an annual basis. The estimates for the 2018 reference period include data from three sample groups collected over a three year period. Estimates for the 2019 reference period will include data from one of five sample groups collected between 2018 and 2022.

  5. Are wage or employment estimates available along with ORS data?

    ORS does not publish wage or employment data. The Office of Employment Statistics (OES) program and Modeled Wage Estimates provide occupational wages by geographic detail. For a listing of all BLS compensation (pay and benefits) data see the Comparison Matrix of BLS Compensation Data Sources. The OES also publishes employment estimates for detailed occupations.

  6. What economic sectors are included in ORS?

    The ORS estimates represent civilian workers, combined private industry workers as well as state and local government workers. Separate economic sector estimates (private and public) are not available. Civilian workers exclude the federal government, military, agricultural sector, private household workers, and the self-employed workers.

  7. Where do I find data on cognitive and mental requirements?

    Data for cognitive and mental requirements are currently being collected and will be published for the 2019 reference period.

    The survey includes questions to collect information about the following:

    • problem solving
    • work review
    • the pace of work
    • interactions with others
  8. Does the ORS collect information about accommodations provided by employers?

    No, modifications or adjustments to job requirements that enable workers to carry out the critical tasks in support of the critical job functions are not included in the ORS. Job requirements without accommodations are published by the ORS and necessary for the SSA.

  9. Are there plans to enhance ORS data?

    BLS will continue initiatives including the evaluation of benchmarks for data collection and future testing of inter-rater reliability. BLS will also continue to refine collection procedures, the data review process, estimation, and validation techniques to ensure ORS produces quality occupational data in the areas of physical requirements; environmental conditions; education, training, and experience; as well as cognitive and mental requirements.

  10. How can I learn more about ORS methodology?

    For information regarding ORS methodology, see the Handbook of Methods. Additional publications, collection materials, and research are available on the ORS program homepage.

  11. How are estimates calculated?

    The Calculation section of the Handbook of Methods provides an explanation of the various estimation formulas for calculating percent of workers, durations, strength levels, and specific vocational preparation levels. Additional imputation procedures were used to align previously collected data with survey definitions used to produce the 2018 reference year estimates. Where possible, three years of ORS samples are included in the estimates. The scope changes implemented before the third year of collection resulted in conceptual inconsistencies for physical demands and environmental conditions requirements across the three years. A multiple imputation approach employing an iterative logistic regression imputation procedure was used.

  12. Are measures of reliability available?

    Yes, standard errors are available to assist users in ascertaining the reliability of ORS estimates. Standard errors provide users a measure of the precision of an estimate to ensure that it is within an acceptable range for their intended purpose. The standard errors are calculated from collected and imputed data, the BLS is researching methods for estimating the variance excluding imputed values. For further information see: reliability of ORS estimates and standard errors.

  13. Are small employers included?

    Yes, small employers are an important part of the U.S. economy. Establishments of all employment sizes are necessary for job requirement estimates to be representative of the national economy.

  14. Do estimates reflect work or calendar days?

    The components of education, training, and experience, which include degree, certification, license, prior work experience, and post-employment training, are measured in calendar days after standardizing to a full-time schedule. For example, a respondent indicates that a four-hour-per-day job and eight-hour-per-day job each require two days of post-employment training. The two-days of post-employment training is converted to one calendar day for the four-hour-per-day job. No conversion is necessary for the eight-hour-per day job.

    For physical requirements and environmental conditions elements, the percentage of the workday takes into account the work schedule. For example, if 2 hours of standing or walking are required for four-hour-per-day and eight-hour-per-day jobs, then standing or walking is required 50 percent of the day for the four-hour-per-day job and 25 percent of the day for the eight-hour-per-day job.

  15. Is there a glossary of terms or definitions of job requirements available?

    Yes, the Handbook of Methods includes a Concepts section with definitions as they pertain to published estimates. Additionally, the collections manuals also provide lists of terms and definitions for each collection year.

  16. Are collection forms available online?

    Current and prior collection forms and manuals are available at

  17. Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

    Economists are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. (Eastern Time) via phone at 202-691-6199 or electronically to answer your questions.

Respondent Questions and Answers

  1. Why should I participate?

    The quality of data produced by the BLS is a direct reflection of the quality of information and cooperation received from employers. Your participation will help the BLS deliver accurate and representative estimate of job requirements in the national economy. The data will help SSA determine whether individuals meet the requirements for disability benefits.

  2. Will my information be kept confidential?

    Yes, your organization‘s participation and specific occupational information will be held in confidence to the fullest extent of the law. The BLS will use the information you provide for statistical purposes only in accordance with BLS Confidentiality Pledge and Federal Laws.

  3. Who do you typically speak to within establishments to obtain your survey data?

    The people we typically speak with can answer questions about the job requirements to complete critical tasks in support of the critical job functions. This could be someone in human resources, risk management, or a supervisor.

  4. How do I provide data?

    A BLS economist will contact you to provide more information about the questions that will be asked and to determine your preferred method for providing data such as a personal visit, a phone call, or via email.

  5. Do I need to have anything prepared?

    Job descriptions, if your company uses them, and current payroll information would allow for a more efficient and targeted interview.

  6. Can I just e-mail you a job description?

    Written job descriptions are helpful in understanding the duties and tasks of an occupation. However, we need to ask additional questions to obtain a complete assessment of the job requirements.

  7. How much of my time is required?

    The typical interview averages approximately one hour but may vary depending on the company size and the types of jobs discussed.


Last Modified Date: February, 21, 2019