By Dr. Ken Manges, Ph.D. | Forensic Psychologist
For the experienced worker (those with skills beyond the entry level) transferability of their skills (TSA) to alternative work is considered. Essentially, a definition of transferability means; what skills has the person acquired as a result of their work that they can perform at the same or different job at the same or lessened level of physical demand.
Transferability considers: Materials Products Subject Matter and Services, along with worker traits and aptitude but not the person’s gender or age.
Vocational evaluators can consider all of the above factors along with the local and national job data-bases (Census code, DOL, SIC, SOC, OOH, OES, O*NET, DOT) to ascertain job possibilities.
Another challenge for the vocational evaluator is the injured infant or young adult who has never worked. In this instance the vocational evaluator will start with the person’s known or potential intelligence and extrapolate to what an entry level jobs may exist in known data bases. For example, a person with a high school diploma is known to earn a specific wage compared to those without a high school degree and those with an education beyond 12th grade.
When the child cannot be evaluated directly due to brain damage or death, a parent’s intellectual or work achievement can be used to project what the deceased infant or young adult could or would have potentially been able to obtain in the future had they not been injured or died. In those instances jobs which could have been obtained by persons with a similar education are considered by the vocational evaluator and projections of potential future earning ability are made.
A vocational evaluation is an objective and standardized measure of a person’s capacity to perform work. Some of the uses of a vocational evaluation include:
- Measurement of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses post injury.
- Assessment of a person’s ability to do different occupations.
- Quantifying the earnings in a spousal support or wrongful death action for an infant or non-wage earner.
Another referral to vocational evaluators are the homemaker or divorcing spouse who has been out of the workforce for some or all of their work life expectancy. When the homemaker has had a job history the vocational evaluator will consider past relevant work. When no work experience exists, the person’s intellectual and academic functioning are used to project what job matches may exist.
When a person has had some work experience and has incurred an injury resulting in an impairment or disability, the person’s prior relevant work history is used as a starting point for the vocational analysis.
Once a person’s ability to return to the workforce has been established, an economist is necessary to determine wage loss post injury. An economist will take the information provided by the vocational evaluator and determine the relevant economic variables applicable. Included, but not limited to these variables are: age, education, discount for present day dollars, benefits and overtime.