Who is the vocational expert?

The vocational expert, or VE, is an expert witness contracted on an as-needed basis by Social Security to testify at disability appeal hearings. A VE has a great deal of specialized knowledge about the current job market and the sorts of abilities and skills an individual needs in order to fulfill work requirements.

Vocational experts are hired by Social Security to objectively evaluate your case, which can mean that some of the things they say may seem unfair. However, it’s important to not get caught up in feelings of anger or frustration. Like everyone attending your hearing, the VE must be treated with respect.

What will the VE do at my appeal hearing?

On the day of your hearing, the judge and your Bellevue disability attorney will ask you several questions about your medical condition, the impact your medical condition has on your ability to work, as well as your job history. The VE will listen to your testimony, then give testimony of his or her own. Both the judge and your attorney may question the VE.

What will the VE testify about?

After you testify, the judge will interview the VE. The judge asks a series of hypothetical questions grounded in the medical condition or conditions at the root of your claim, for example:

  • Could someone with the claimant’s documented medical condition still do any of the jobs listed in his or her past relevant work history?
  • What jobs might an individual of the same age, education, and work history as the claimant be able to do if he or she cannot stand for more than ten minutes, cannot lift more than five pounds, and must be able to take a five minute break every hour?

If the VE strongly feels that you could still perform past work or is able to identify other jobs that an individual with your medical condition would be able to perform, the judge will deny your claim unless persuaded otherwise.

Additionally, if the VE feels there are other jobs you would be able to adjust to, she or he will give:

  • Job titles
  • Codes
  • Number of positions in the region or the national economy

Do I have any kind of recourse if I don’t agree with what the VE says?

Yes. Your attorney is now allowed to cross-examine the VE, asking a series of follow up questions designed to counter those jobs the hypothetical claimant is able to perform. This is typically done by focusing on limitations the judge didn’t include in the hypothetical questions.

Cross-examination is one of the most important aspects of a successful disability appeal hearing. If you’re appealing a denied disability benefits claim, speak with our Bellevue disability benefits lawyers at Cuddigan Law Group today. Call 402-933-5405 or email [email protected] to learn more.

Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, our informative report, is available to you free – ask how you can receive a copy today!

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska