How Does SSA Use Vocational Experts?

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SSA vocational expert

Proving that you are disabled in order to obtain Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits can be a lengthy process, and often may feel like an uphill battle. You are already managing a disability, and the SSA may add more stress to your life when you make a claim.

In this article, we will discuss the way in which the SSA uses vocational experts, so you can better understand whether you want to engage a vocational expert of your own on a case, or at least have a consultation with one. So, after reviewing this article, if you have additional questions about SSA vocational experts for your disability claims, then we invite you to contact 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 at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.

The Venue for Vocational Experts

The SSA will not interact with a vocational expert until a case goes to a hearing. So, if you make a disability claim before the SSA, and the SSA approves your claim, then neither you nor the SSA, will ever have a need for a vocational expert.

However, not all disability claims are approved before a hearing. According to data from the SSA, the percentage of applicants awarded benefits at the initial claims level averaged only 28%. The percentage of those who receive benefits after a hearing is 13%.  Denied disability claims average around 53%.

Accordingly, the odds are not in your favor when it comes to getting your disability claim approved before a hearing.  That is why consulting with an SSA vocational expert could be worth the time.

What the Vocational Expert Will Do at the Hearing?

If your case goes to a disability hearing, the SSA will normally use a vocational expert to provide evidence at your hearing. The vocational expert will provide an impartial expert opinion that the judge (at an SSA hearing the judge is referred to as an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ) will consider when making his or her disability determination.

The vocational expert will typically prepare for the hearing by reviewing evidence prior to the hearing. Then the expert will testify in person at the hearing, and may also be called upon by the ALJ to give answers to written questions, also referred to as “interrogatories.”

The vocational expert essentially is there to help the ALJ figure out whether you, as the claimant, can do your previous work or if there are other work possibilities for you. Thus, the vocational expert will provide an opinion based on his or her knowledge of:

1. The level of skill and the physical and mental demands of a particular occupation;
2. Different aspects of various work settings;
3. The variety of jobs within one particular type of occupation;
4. Transferrable skills; and
5. The SSA’s regulations with regard to the transferability of work skills.

How Does the ALJ Know the Vocational Expert is Independent?

One of the important features of having a vocational expert testify at an SSA disability hearing is that the expert is impartial, i.e., does not take sides in the case. The vocational expert is, as the title suggests, an “expert” in the field of vocational matters – such as a person’s ability to do work based on certain types of injuries and the skills needed for a particular occupation.

The ALJ asks for an expert because the expert has knowledge that a typical person, including an ALJ, does not possess. Thus, the expert is at the hearing to educate the ALJ on a subject, and not to advocate for any one side.

Thus, the ALJ will establish the vocational expert’s independence and impartiality by asking questions about the expert’s qualifications, experience, licenses, and publications to judge the overall competence of the expert.

Can You Question the Vocational Expert at the Hearing?

At the hearing, the ALJ will normally question the expert. Then, the ALJ will allow you or your attorney to ask the expert questions. During you or your attorney’s questioning, the ALJ will have control over whether your questions are proper.

The hearing is normally recorded, which can be used in the event you want to appeal a decision that the ALJ made.  Typically, the hearing will conclude with the ALJ stating that he or she will issue a written decision. Soon after, the ALJ will provide you and the SSA with the written decision on your disability claim.

OAS Will Provide You With a Vocational Expert for your Next Case

The vocational experts at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) have over forty years of experience providing vocational services for attorneys and documenting the income potential and employment capacity of underemployed, unemployed, and disabled spouses in many types of cases

OAS specializes in working with the plaintiff or defense attorney to assist in objectively documenting the economics in a case, and in acting as a vocational expert at SSDI hearings. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the vocational assessment 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 evaluating earning capacity in divorce cases and 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.