What’s a Vocational Expert ― and why will one be at my Disability hearing?

A VE is a jobs professional who will give an opinion about what work, if any, you can perform.

A Vocational Expert knows what skills are needed to do certain work and what jobs are available in the current economy. Because Social Security Disability benefits are awarded to those who can’t work due to a medical condition, VE’s have an important role in the Disability determination process.

Vocational Experts are called upon to give expert opinions about whether or not you can work, taking into consideration your condition, age, education, experience and limitations. VE’s are supposed to be impartial, objective sources who have no stake in the outcome of your Disability case.

Before your Disability hearing, the Vocational Expert will review your file to learn about your previous work experience, skill level and physical limitations. The VE may also make observations and listen to testimony during your hearing.

At the end of the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will call the VE as an expert witness to answer questions about a hypothetical worker, who just so happens to have your identical ailments, educational background and work history. Basically, the VE will answer two main questions:

  • Can the worker still perform any of the jobs held over the past 15 years?
  • Can the worker’s skills be transferred to other jobs that exist in the economy?

The judge uses the VE’s testimony to decide if you can still work and whether or not you are disabled. If the VE believes working is not feasible, there’s a good chance your Disability claim will be approved. If the VE testifies that the hypothetical worker can do other jobs, he or she then must list what those jobs are and the availability of such work in your area.

After the Vocational Expert gives their opinion, you or your attorney will have an opportunity to question the VE about their opinions. Cross-examining a Vocational Expert requires preparation, skill and experience. To avoid losing your Disability hearing based on the testimony of a Vocational Expert, you should strongly consider hiring an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer if you haven’t done so already.

The attorneys at McDonald Law Firm have represented hundreds of clients during Disability hearings and are skilled at cross-examining and challenging Vocational Experts. It would be our privilege to represent you, too. Give us a call at 855-702-9061 to get started.

We hope you found this information helpful. Please visit our Disability FAQ page to see other questions like. “What is a Vocational Expert.”

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