What is a Vocational Expert?

November 29, 2017
Dayes Law Firm

A vocational expert is an expert witness who testifies at disability hearings about the claimant’s ability to perform different types of jobs that are currently available in the workforce. The vocational expert is knowledgeable about the current labor market and the skills necessary to perform various jobs. They evaluate a claimants’ transferable skills, age, education, physical and mental limitations, and work experience to assess whether they are able to return to work.

At Dayes Law Firm PC, our Social Security disability attorneys in Phoenix are experienced in all aspects of the appeals process and can help represent your claim throughout your hearing. Contact us to discuss the role of a vocational expert in your claim and how we can help.

The Role of a Vocational Expert

Vocational experts are requested by administrative law judges when claimants do not meet an impairment listing in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. They provide an impartial expert opinion that the judge considers when making a decision regarding the claimant’s disability and ability to work.

The administrative law judge inquires about the number of jobs in the local or national economy that the claimant could theoretically work given certain factors like his or her age and transferable skills. Factors that a vocational expert may consider when giving testimony include:

  • The physical and mental demands of various jobs
  • The characteristics of work settings
  • The availability of certain jobs within certain industries
  • The ability for claimants to transfer certain job skills

How a Vocational Expert Can Affect Your Claim

At the hearing level, the judge is concerned with whether your impairment prevents you from working. He or she makes this determination by considering whether your limitations affect you to the point that you cannot perform previous or other work that is available in the national economy.

The judge poses questions to the vocational expert often with a hypothetical scenario that mirrors your own situation. For example, he or she may ask questions such as:

  • Think about a person who is the same age and has the same education and work experience as the claimant. Like the claimant, the person is limited to unskilled sedentary work. She can only sit for an hour at a time and requires changes in position that take a couple of minutes. Is this person able to perform the past type of work she did before?
  • Given the same hypothetical above, if the person had to miss one or two days of work a month, would she still be able to perform that type of job?
  • What types of jobs are in the national economy that the claimant could perform?

After the judge poses questions of this nature, the vocational expert gives his or her opinion as to whether this person could perform the types of jobs that are available.

If the vocational expert says the hypothetical person could perform work, it is up to your Social Security disability lawyer to cross-examine the vocational expert so that he or she further narrows the potential jobs you could work by including additional limitations that you have that the judge did not include in the hypothetical. The aim is for the expert to say that there are no jobs that you could perform given your limitations.

Vocational experts can have a profound effect on a disability claim. If the judge determines that you can perform any kind of work, your claim will be denied.

Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer

The skilled Social Security Disability lawyers at Dayes Law Firm PC can help handle your claim if a vocational expert is involved. We can help you more accurately assess your limitations and abilities before a hearing so that you are ready to address questions about these factors.

We work on contingency, so we only get paid if your claim for benefits is approved.

Call 1-800-503-2000 to get started on your claim today.