Role of a Vocational Expert in Your SSDI Claim

Vocational Witness Testifying on a CaseIf your application for SSDI benefits is denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you will need to file an appeal and attend a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The SSA will hire a vocational expert to testify at your hearing. Their testimony can be crucial in convincing the judge that you are too disabled to work and qualify for SSDI benefits.

What Is a Vocational Expert?

A vocational expert is an expert witness who has knowledge of the skills required for a variety of jobs, the labor market, and current job trends. They will most likely also have experience in job placement and vocational counseling. Although they are paid for testifying at your hearing by the SSA, they are supposed to be impartial and not favor either the SSA or you.

What Will a Vocational Expert Testify About at Your Hearing?

Before your hearing, the vocational expert will review all the exhibits in your case and your prior work history. At your hearing, the administrative law judge would begin by questioning them. Then your attorney would have the opportunity to cross-exam the vocational expert.

A vocational expert’s testimony can be very important in your case because their opinion on whether you can work will have a direct impact on the judge’s decision in your case. Here is what they would testify to:

  • Your prior jobs. The vocational expert will discuss your prior jobs and whether you can continue to perform them. If not, they will offer an opinion as to what job skills might be transferable to other jobs.
  • Jobs you can perform. The vocational expert will also give an opinion on any other jobs you could perform given your limitations due to your disabling medical conditions. The administrative law judge and your attorney would ask the expert a series of hypotheticals about whether a hypothetical person who has your impairments could perform your former and other jobs.
  • Cross-examination. Your lawyer will be able to cross-exam the vocational expert after the administrative judge questions them. If the expert supports your claim, your attorney would reinforce this by eliciting other favorable responses. If the vocational expert claims that you could do certain jobs, your lawyer would challenge their opinion and try to prove that you really cannot perform the duties associated with those jobs.

Are you applying for SSDI benefits? Was your application denied? Call our Roswell office to schedule your free case evaluation with our experienced Social Security disability lawyers.


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