Martha has suffered from fibromyalgia for several years. When she finally accepted the fact she could no longer work, she applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. She and her attorney worked through the application process together. Now, they appeared at her SSDI hearing. Martha was surprised to see someone called a vocational expert in the hearing room. She felt apprehensive and wondered why?
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
People who receive disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program must show:
- that they are disabled, and
- that the disability impairs their ability to work.
The Social Security Administration will review medical records and a Residual Functional Capability Questionnaire during the application process. A vocational expert adds input about your ability to work, input that could make a big difference in whether you receive benefits or not.
The Vocational Expert’s Role
During a hearing, the vocational expert (VE) likely will answer questions from the administrative law judge presiding over the hearing. Your attorney will also be given the opportunity to ask questions.
Sometimes “hypotheticals” will be reviewed. For example, the VE may be asked if you could continue doing your previous job despite your condition. If the answer to that hypothetical question is yes, it’s unlikely you will qualify for benefits. However, having a VE testify that your work ability is severely impaired by your disability is beneficial.
The hypothetical situations used in the hearing will fit your condition. For instance, if you are suffering from spinal stenosis, the VE will testify as to what type of work activities someone with spinal stenosis could do. It would not make sense to ask the VE what job duties someone with sleep apnea or heart disease could accomplish.
Your attorney can cross-examine the VE. In fact, the impact of a VE’s unfavorable comments about your abilities could be reduced through cross-examination.
Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance Is Hard. We Can Help.
The application process can be long and frustrating. Mistakes made by someone who doesn’t know the law could delay or eliminate your disability payments.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience in the legal field. Call us at 714-385-8100 to set up a free consultation or fill out our Contact Form. Though our office is conveniently located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.