Win More of Your Social Security Disability Cases: How Hiring Your Own Vocational Experts Can Help You – #2

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The grant rate for Social Security Cases has decreased from 70% in the 1970s to 45% currently. One method to increase the grant rate is to retain your own Vocational Expert. In the second series of these blogs, I will point out areas where the OAS Vocational Experts can assist you in counteracting the impartial VE’s testimony on significant numbers of jobs in the local or national economy.

Independent Vocational Experts (VE) are contracted by the Social Security Administration to respond to the ALJ’s hypothetical questions. The VE testifies as to the type of jobs available given the parameters of the hypothetical question and the “significant” number of jobs. Many times the Vocational Expert testifies telephonically: never seeing the claimant, never reviewing the medical records, and never hearing the claimant’s testimony.

Many of the government’s “Impartial” Vocational Experts work exclusively for the Administration and earn a significant income from this work. Unfortunately, they tend to be swayed to testify the way the ALJ wants them to, or they may not receive any additional assignments.

Next to the “mis-classification” of the claimant’s past relevant work, the second most frequent error made by the government’s VE is making a determination as to the number of jobs that exist for a particular occupation. In the early part of the Vocational Expert program (the 1970s and 1980s), the administration paid Vocational Experts to perform labor market studies in their geographical areas to determine the type and amount of jobs existing. This practice has been discontinued, requiring the Impartial Vocational Expert to rely on their own experience and the reported numbers from the United States Government wage surveys. Many of these surveys are reported in one of 503 census groups, from which the Vocational Expert extrapolates the number of jobs existing for a particular DOT Occupation from the group of jobs. This determination requires some data massaging using the methodology suggested by Jeff Trutran of Vertek, Inc. publisher of Job Browser Pro and Occubrowse software.

The post-hearing retention of your own Vocational Expert allows you to counteract the numbers testified by the government’s Vocational Expert and make a determination as to whether they are “significant.” Such miss-information can turn a case, which should be granted into an unfavorable decision.

OAS can assist the Social Security Attorney in providing a Vocational Opinion based on our objective assessment.

An assessment is made of the claimant’s vocational capabilities based on the record review, standardized diagnostic evaluation, vocational testing (if needed), transferability skill’s analysis, and labor market research in the person’s local geographical area to determine if any “significant number of jobs” exist in the local or national labor market that the claimant could perform.

When the case goes to a hearing, we will work closely with the attorney so they can better understand our evaluation and prepare for cross-examination of the government’s impartial expert’s testimony.

OAS Experts have testified in numerous Social Security Disability cases. We have been recognized as Vocational Experts in the Federal Courts of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Florida.

OAS works closely with each attorney to assist them in assessing their Social Security Disability claimant. For further information, please call OAS at 800-292-1919 for a sample Social Security report and ask for our article Social Security Vocational Expert Friend or Foe: How to Cross Examine & Win Your Case that further describes how we can help you win your Social Security cases.