COVID-19 and Vocational Experts

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The world is facing something that has not happened in a century – a pandemic. As you know, this COVID-19 crisis has been nothing short of a massive blow to our economy and our way of life. As such, when all of the dust settles, we as a nation will need to deal with the damages left by the coronavirus. That will include people who are rendered disabled because of this terrible virus.  

The question becomes, then, how do people whose lives have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19 find a source of compensation to help them moving forward? Well, you will likely make a disability claim to the Social Security Administration, asking for Social Security Disability Insurance. And as part of that process, you will most likely need to prove that your life is forever changed due to the disabling illness.  

The way to prove that your life has changed, and you may not be able to hold down the job you once had, is to obtain the help of a vocational expert. That expert is the key to the proof of a disability.  

Accordingly, in this article, we will discuss the basics of what a vocational expert is, and why the testimony of a vocational expert at a disability hearing is so important. If, after reading this article, you have more questions about a vocational expert for your own personal circumstances, then we welcome you to talk to us at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS).  

We are one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.

What Is a Vocational Expert?

A vocational expert is an expert in analyzing, understanding, and testifying about the skill, and physical and mental demands required to perform a certain job. A vocational expert also will be able to identify whether there are any transferrable skills that would be appropriate for jobs with lower exertion levels.  

Thus, a vocation expert is a resource for the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) who are tasked with adjudicating Social Security Disability Insurance claims.  

Even though a claimant, the Social Security Administration, or the ALJ may hire a vocational expert to review the evidence presented by a disability benefits claimant, the vocational expert will remain impartial.  That is because the vocational expert is only present at a disability hearing to give objective evidence to the ALJ.  

Vocational experts are not attorneys, yet their training typically includes advanced degrees and relevant work experience related to their profession. At a disability hearing, a vocational expert will normally only interact with the ALJ during the hearing itself. A vocational expert often will not interact with a disability claimant in any way.

What Kind of Research does a Vocational Expert do for a Disability Claim?

In order to provide an ALJ at a disability hearing with a relevant, helpful expert opinion about a particular disability claim, the vocational expert will look back at the claimant’s work history over 15 years. The vocational expert will look at each individual job, then testify about what each job requires in terms of skill, and in terms of the demands both physical and mental. The vocational expert will also give the ALJ some options, if possible, of other occupations that the claimant may still perform.

Why is a Vocational Expert’s Testimony So Important?

The vocational expert has a lot of influence over a disability hearing because he or she is impartial and can give an informed opinion about a claimant’s ability to work and his or her limitations. Thus, with a COVID-19 related disability, a vocational expert will need to advise the ALJ as to what physical, specifically respiratory, demands are required of a particular job. That way, the ALJ will be able to make a judgment as to whether the COVID-19 related issues do, in fact, render someone disabled.  

What Does a Vocational Expert’s Testmony Usually Look Like?  

Normally, a vocational expert’s testimony during a disability hearing will be to respond to a series of hypotheticals. Thus, rather than have the vocational expert simply give information specific to the claimant. The proceeding calls for an attorney or the ALJ to ask “what if” questions to the vocational expert. For example, an early question in the proceeding to a vocational expert would be a question about whether a person who has the same documented impairments as the claimant could still do a job similar to the claimant’s old job.  

Another question could be something like: “What jobs, if any, could a person who has the same age, education, and work history of the claimant do if they could no longer life 20 pounds regularly, or stand for over one hour?”  

Through that type of questioning, the vocational expert would be able to convey to the ALJ what work the claimant can do, or whether the claimant is completely disabled. 

Let OAS Prepare a Life Care Plan or Vocational Assessment in Your Case.    

OAS specializes in working with the plaintiff or defense attorney to assist in objectively documenting the economic damages in a case. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the damages of the case can be objectively and efficiently presented. 

We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services for Plaintiff and Defense attorneys. 

The company specializes in assisting attorneys in documenting the damages in cases where an individual has been severely injured by providing objective findings on how the injuries affect a persons’ ability to work and earn money, as well as the cost of care required in catastrophic injuries.

OAS is your Vocational Expert & Life Care Planner Nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.  

Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. is one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.