When you attend a Social Security Disability hearing, you will be in the hearing room with the Social Security Judge (ALJ), a court reporter, and a vocational expert. A frequent question that I am asked and a frequent concern for Social Security Disability applicants is the role a vocational expert plays in their disability hearing.
The vocational expert is called by the Social Security Administration to provide testimony on the classification of your past relevant work, on the current labor market, and on skills and exertional levels of past relevant work and other work that may be determine you could possibly be able to perform. The vocational expert testifies in order to help the ALJ determine whether or not the claimant can work in any capacity. If the vocational expert determines that you can’t perform any of the work you had performed in the past, then he/she will testify to whether there is any work you can perform at all. It is the job of the vocational expert to determine whether or not there are jobs available that the applicant can perform.
The vocational expert is basing the opinions on hypotheticals provided to the expert by the ALJ. The hypotheticals are based on what the ALJ believes are the limitations you have based on perhaps your testimony, but also the medical records. A hypothetical could go something like this . . . “Let’s assume a person who was the same age as the applicant with the same work history and same educational background, with the following limitations . . . are there any jobs this hypothetical individual could perform?” The vocational expert would then determine if there are any jobs that could be performed based on the limitations provided by the Judge. This is a very critical process in your social security hearing and essentially why you need experienced representation.
Experienced legal representation can help undermine the vocation expert’s testimony by challenging jobs identified, jobs within the national economy, challenging job requirements, and whether job requirements are outside the identified limitations and descriptions of the job duties. Additionally, legal representation can be sure to direct further limitations through hypotheticals that the ALJ may not have provided, but have basis in the medical records and the testimony. There are multiple avenues an attorney can take in challenging a vocation expert’s testimony. These challenges can provide a record for Appeal.
Your hearing is your one chance to present your case, your story, your testimony, and paint a real picture of your life and limitations. Don’t r risk doing yourself. Mooney & Associates represents Social Security Disability applications throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION and evaluation of your claim. Call us at 717-200-HURT or toll free at 1-877-632-4656.