Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


General FAQs

What is the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS)?

ORS is a new survey that will collect the following information for selected occupations:

  • Physical demands of work, ranging from keyboarding use to lifting
  • Environmental conditions such as extreme heat and cold
  • Vocational preparation including education, prior work experience, and training
  • Cognitive demands of work including complexity and communication

Why is this survey being conducted?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to update the occupational requirements data it uses to make disability determinations.

How will BLS capture Occupational Requirements Survey data?

BLS will use the National Compensation Survey (NCS) platform because it already captures information about occupations similar to the data needed for the Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability programs.

What is the relationship between BLS and the Social Security Administration in regard to this survey?

BLS is developing a survey to collect data about occupational requirements under an interagency agreement with SSA.

What kind of information about cognitive demands of work is being collected?

Cognitive-based questions will ask about the complexity of job tasks; the level of job controls; the variability of tasks; and the nature and frequency of communication that is typical of the occupation.

How are the jobs going to be chosen?

BLS is collecting information for a limited number of occupations from sampled establishments. Most private industry businesses will be asked to provide data for no more than eight occupations, based on the total number of employees at the establishment.

Will ORS provide information about reasonable accommodations provided by employers?

No. ORS will not collect information regarding employer accommodations. To learn about how SSA uses work information in their disability determination process, see

Are small employers included?

Yes. Small employers are an important part of the U.S. economy. We need to include establishments of all employment sizes in order for this study to be representative of all jobs in the national economy.

When will ORS data be available?

The scheduled release of ORS data has yet to be determined.

Will the data be kept current? If so, how?

BLS plans to refresh a portion of the ORS database each year by collecting data from a new sample of establishments.

How can I obtain details about ORS survey methodology?

Survey methodology used in testing to date is available in the Occupational Requirements Survey Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 summary reports. Information about more recent survey design research is available in this paper presented at the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology 2013 Research Conference.

Whom should I contact if I have additional questions?

Call or e-mail the NCS information office at 202-691-6199 or Request for Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) Information.

What other related data does the BLS publish?

  • Current Population Survey (CPS)—labor force, employment, and unemployment statistics for persons with or without a disability. These are estimates for the nation as a whole; data are not available by state.
  • Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities (IIF) Program —annual report on workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatal injuries.
  • National Compensation Survey—change over time in labor costs and level of average cost per hour worked, and comprehensive data on incidence and provisions of selected employee benefit plans.
  • Occupational Employment Statistics—data on employment and wages for over 800 occupations and for about 400 nonfarm industries for the nation, plus occupational data for States and metropolitan areas.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook—provides data for 250 occupations, by nature of the work, working conditions, employment, job outlook and earnings, related occupations, sources of additional information, and training, other qualifications, and advancement.

Respondent FAQs

Why should I participate?

You count! The quality of data produced by the BLS is a direct reflection of the quality of information and cooperation received from employers. Your participation in this test will help the BLS develop accurate survey questions. A letter (PDF) to participants from the Social Security Administration's Acting Commissioner, Carolyn W. Colvin, further explains why these data are important.

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 the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002.

Who do you want to talk to?

The person who responds to this survey should be able to answer questions about the duties, qualifications, physical and cognitive demands, and environmental conditions of your occupations. This person could be someone in human resources, a risk manager, or a supervisor.

How do I provide data?

A BLS economist will contact you to determine your preferred method for providing data and discuss which specific items will be included in the survey.

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.

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 vocational preparation, physical and cognitive demands, and environmental conditions of each job.

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 that are discussed.


Last Modified Date: March 20, 2015