Occupational Requirements and Worker Functional Abilities: A Close Look at Three Key Occupations

Published: 2021
Project ID: UM21-04


This project will examine the physical/mental functioning and use of accommodations among workers in three key occupations, selected from 14 identified as physically demanding and highly prevalent among SSDI applicants. SSA’s input will be sought when selecting the three occupations. We will field a survey, where respondents will take the Work Disability Functional Assessment Battery (WD-FAB) and answer work-related and demographic questions, including the use of accommodations, specific vocational preparation, and demographic characteristics. The WD-FAB generates eight scores per respondent, one for each physical function domain (basic mobility, fine motor ability, upper body function, and community mobility) and mental function (resilience/sociability, mood/emotions, self-regulation, and cognition/communication). The samples for each occupation will be obtained from an existing internet panel prescreened by occupation. We will examine these data to see if accommodation use is associated with lower functioning, which would suggest that accommodations mitigate lower functioning in these occupations. In addition, for each occupation, we will compare the WD-FAB scores (means, medians, etc.) to Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) estimates for requirements that align with WD-FAB domains. In doing so, this project will demonstrate an approach to assessing an occupation and the functioning of workers in that occupation to inform disability determination.