What is the Role of the Vocational Expert During a
Social Security Disability Hearing?
In almost every adult hearing for Social Security disability, a vocational expert is either present or appears telephonically. A vocational expert (VE) is an independent contractor with the Social Security Administration who has special knowledge concerning the physical and mental requirements of jobs that exist in the national economy. The vocational expert uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and its companion publications to assist the Administrative Law Judge in determining how a Claimant’s mental and physical limitations would impact his or her ability to find and sustain work in the national economy.
After listening to the claimant’s testimony regarding his or her past work, the vocational expert will classify what Social Security defines as past relevant work, or any work that the claimant has done in the last 15 years at substantial gainful activity level. In doing so, the vocational expert will state at what exertional level a job was performed, how the job is normally performed in the national economy, and the skill level involved in performing the job. In response to questions by the Administrative Law Judge, the vocational expert will also give his or her opinion as to what jobs a claimant can perform given the limitations identified by the Administrative Law Judge.
The testimony of a vocational expert can make or break a finding of disability for the claimant. The representative is also allowed to question the vocational expert during the hearing. A Social Security lawyer needs to be knowledgeable in the particulars of the DOT and understand how the vocational experts reach their conclusions.
For more information on the role of a vocational expert in a Social Security disability hearing, contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. represents Social Security disability claimants in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana at all levels of the disability process from initial application to appeals to Federal Court.