The Vocational Expert

Posted November 17, 2017 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

In many disability claims, vocational evidence becomes critical to whether you will be found disabled or not. A vocational expert (VE) is an “expert witness” called by the Social Security Administration to testify at your disability hearing. A VE knows about job availability in the current labor market and the skills needed to perform certain jobs.

If you are found to have a severe medical impairment, the question then becomes whether you can perform your past work or any other work – such as a light duty or sedentary job – with your age, education, and work experience. For example, a 55-year-old coal miner with a fifth-grade education is in a different position than a 40-year-old with a graduate degree.

A VE is called to testify at most disability hearings. VE’s are trained to assess an individual’s age, education, and past work to determine “transferable” skills which would allow them to move into another job. A Judge usually calls a VE when it is clear that an individual cannot return to the type of work that they performed in the past. The VE is then asked to indicate what jobs are available in the local or national economy, considering the claimant’s age, education, work experience, physical and mental limitations and “transferable” skills.

If the Judge determines that you can still perform any kind of full-time work, then your disability claim may be denied. Keep in mind, the issue is not whether you could be hired for a particular job, but whether you retain the capacity to perform any other type of work.

Social Security recognizes that as people age, the ability to adapt to new skills, tools, and work settings diminishes. If pain and/or fatigue impose significant limitations, this can reduce the pool of available jobs. The VE should be cross-examined to determine if you can fully perform the job(s) suggested. It takes experience with disability hearings and knowledge of Social Security law to ask the right questions that will successfully rule out any jobs the VE says you could do. To avoid losing your hearing based on the VE’s testimony, consider hiring an advocate or attorney to represent you at your hearing.

If you or someone you know is looking for assistance with a Social Security Disability claim, please contact us for a free case evaluation!

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®