When it comes to medical conditions, you often need a second opinion. One esteemed doctor might have a completely different take than another equally skilled physician. When it comes to SSDI and SSI claims, you need medical proof and proof that you cannot work. A vocational expert can provide this testimony and more.
What a Vocational Expert Does
Generally, a vocational expert testifies about job-related issues. In the context of an SSDI claim, however, the vocational expert can be the reason your claim is approved or rejected.
People apply for SSDI because they have a condition that prevents them from working at their current work. In fact, that’s two of the most important requirements: a disability and the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
A vocational expert gives an opinion of your ability to work by:
- Reviewing your prior job history, and
- Assessing your transferable skills.
Social Security often hires expert witnesses. Claimants can also hire vocational experts.
They Also Testify at Hearings and Appeals
Vocational experts are often called to testify before administrative law judges, the first level of appeal. So, if your SSDI claim is rejected, you might very well see this expert witness.
Typically, they testify about the following issues:
- Whether you can work at your previous job,
- If you can transfer your skills to a new job, and
- The different types of jobs suitable for your current condition.
The Social Security attorney might ask the vocational expert to answer hypotheticals. These are questions based on possibilities:
“What is the possibility that someone with [name]’s condition could lift 50 pounds – or drive a forklift – or sit at a desk for 8 hours a day – and so on?”
Claimants and Vocational Experts
Your attorney will be given the chance to cross-examine any witnesses at your hearings. Cross-examination consists of a series of questions to gain more information from the witness or, sometimes, to cast doubt on their testimony.
Cross-examination can be extremely effective. Yet, you and your attorney might decide that you need to hire a vocational expert to provide a second opinion. Your vocational expert might have a completely different opinion than the one testifying for Social Security.
Administrative law judges and other judges can only render decisions based on the evidence before them. If an expert witness says you can work, and you have no firm proof that testimony is wrong, the judge usually will have to deny your claim.
Call to Learn How a Vocational Expert Can Help Your Claim
Talk to an attorney about your eligibility for disability benefits. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ legal experience, much of it involving Social Security Disability Insurance claims. They can help you with your application and any appeals that might be needed.
Call us at 714-385-8100 for a free consultation. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.