Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
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Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Disability Denials and Filing Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
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
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions
Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews