Applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be challenging. In 2020, SSA denied approximately two-thirds of the over 1.8 million disability benefit applications it received. Clearly, the government is extremely cautious when considering payments to an alleged disabled person.
If an injured person is denied benefits, they may request a Social Security Disability hearing. At that hearing, SSA may present evidence from a vocational expert regarding the claimant’s ability to work. In this article, we discuss how a claimant’s own vocational expert can help them and their disability attorney successfully pursue a claim for benefits.
What is a Vocational Expert?
A vocational expert (VE) is an authority in the areas of vocational training and rehabilitation. They have extensive knowledge of the education, training, and skills necessary to perform various jobs. These experts generally have advanced degrees and certifications in numerous vocational-related fields.
An experienced VE understands current industrial and occupational trends, as well as the economy’s impact on labor markets. They can provide evidence regarding a disability applicant’s capacity to either return to their chosen job or obtain employment in a different line of work. A VE can also discuss an applicant’s lost income and earning capacity.
Because a vocational expert understands how SSA determines whether a claimant is disabled, they can play a significant role in the social security disability application process.
The Role of SSA Vocational Experts in a Disability Hearing
If SSA has denied your initial application for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits and you are now scheduled to appear at a hearing, you need to be prepared. SSA has vocational experts who will testify regarding what jobs might be available to you based on your disability. An Administrative Law Judge assigned to your case usually brings in the SSA expert to render an opinion to assist the judge in making a final determination on your benefits claim.
Vocational experts are paid by SSA and called to testify at the majority of disability hearings. In fact, VE’s appear more often than medical experts. Accordingly, one will likely be present in your case.
The judge presiding over your case will ask SSA’s vocational expert whether a person with your disabilities would be able to perform any of your past jobs. If this ‘hypothetical’ person could not work in your field, the judge will want to know whether there are other jobs they could perform. Generally, if the VE believes that there is work you could still do despite your limitations, even if those jobs are not in your chosen career, SSA will likely deny your claim for benefits.
Unfortunately, a vocational expert enlisted by SSA will often testify about your capacity to work without ever reviewing your medical records or even meeting you. They participate in the hearing as an impartial witness giving answers only to the hypothetical questions posed to them about your employment prospects. Nevertheless, their assessment and opinion can have a significant impact on your claim.
The bottom line is that SSA wants you to get back to work as quickly as possible. The government clearly does not want to pay out benefits if an injured person can still do some type of work to earn an income. Accordingly, if your disability prevents you from performing your job or getting another one, it is critical that you have your own social security expert at any disability hearing.
Why You Need Your Own Social Security Expert
Hypothetical questions about what a similar person in your situation could or could not do for employment may not be beneficial to your specific case. There may be many factors the SSA’s expert did not take into account before giving their opinion, including your age, prior illnesses or injuries, and any other circumstances that might impact your ability to return to work. It is essential for the judge or hearing examiner assigned to your case to hear from an expert who has actually interviewed you and reviewed your entire medical history.
When you and your disability attorney work with an OAS social security expert, they will take the time to get to know you and the specific facts of your case. They will follow up on any incomplete or missing information to ensure that they are fully aware of your situation before offering their opinion to you, your attorney, or the judge. Unlike an SSA expert, they will not rely solely on what a hypothetical person ‘could’ do in your situation.
Our social security experts will use the information they gain to provide a realistic view of what you can offer an employer after your illness or injury. In cases where your disability prevents you from working at all, an OAS expert can support your request for maximum disability benefits. While an expert’s opinion does not bind a judge or hearing examiner in a social security disability case, it can be highly persuasive.
Our experience shows that using vocational experts in disability cases results in more beneficial settlements and jury verdicts. Grounded in extensive research and precise analysis, our experts provide objective, quantifiable measures of a person’s ability to work, both in and outside their chosen field. Accordingly, if you experience a severe injury and have applied for social security benefits, call OAS.
The Experts at OAS Can Help With Social Security Disability Benefits
Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) is one of the top companies providing vocational experts. We have been involved in some landmark cases using vocational experts in New York and New Jersey.
We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of vocational expert services.
OAS is your vocational expert nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.
OAS is one of the top companies providing Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services throughout the country. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.