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Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this?

Vocational experts are vocational rehabilitation professionals who meet the qualifications of the Social Security Administration. Vocational experts provide vocational advice to disability adjudicators from the initial disability claims level through the administrative law judge hearing level. For the purposes of this discussion, we will review the vocational experts role in the administrative law judge disability hearing.

Prior to scheduling your disability hearing, an administrative law judge will review your disability file and form an opinion as to your ability to perform your past relevant work with the functional limitations established by the medical evidence in your disability file.

The administrative law judge must first consider if your impairment, or impairments, meet or equal a medical listing. If you do not meet the criteria of any medical listing (in the disability listing book), you may be a candidate for an allowance based upon medical and vocational factors.

What do I mean by this? Social Security has Medical Vocational guidelines that must be considered when determining an individualís disability. What do the Social Security medical vocational guidelines address? Social Security disability medical vocational decisions are based upon an individualís residual functional capacity (what you are able to do in spite your medical and/or mental impairments), age, education, and work experience.

How do does Social Security determine the exertional and skill requirements of your past work? Social Security uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), which describes various types of work as they are performed in the national economy. The DOT describes the exertional requirements as well as the skill demands of a particular job.

So now you may be wondering what does this have to with a vocational expert being present at my disability hearing? If you are sent a letter stating that the judge will have a vocational expert present at your hearing, it may mean he has decided that you cannot perform your past work with the limitations of your impairments.

Therefore, the administrative law judge must now decide if you will be able to perform "other work". This is where the vocational expert is useful due to the complexities of vocational determinations. How does the administrative law judge garner the vocational advice from the vocational expert at your disability hearing? Generally, the administrative law judge will direct a hypothetical question to the vocational expert.

The question may be something like this:

"Given this individualís functional limitations, do you feel there are other jobs that could be performed by this individual in the national economy?"

Often the vocational expert's answer in this situation will determine the outcome of the hearing. Consequently, individuals who receive a letter stating that there will be a vocational expert present at their hearing may wish to seek qualified representation in the form of an experienced disability lawyer.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect
What happens when you go to a Social Security disability hearing?
Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Presenting evidence at a social security disability or SSI hearing
How Long Does It Take To Get The Results Of A Disability Hearing?
Do Most People Have To Go To A Disability Hearing in order to Get Approved For Disability?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge
Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this?
Social Security Disability Hearings - What is the ALJ

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria