Why Is There A Vocational Expert At My Disability Hearing?

You have received a notice that your Social Security Disability hearing has been scheduled.  A vocational expert (VE) is scheduled to appear and give testimony at your hearing.  Should you be concerned?  What is the role of the vocational expert?

A vocational expert is a witness routinely called by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to give testimony in Social Security Disability hearings.  The VE is an authority regarding job availability and vocational capacity in the current job market as well as the skills that are needed to perform specific jobs.  The vocational expert assists the ALJ so that he or she may make a determination into a claimant’s eligibility for benefits.

During the hearing, the ALJ will pose questions to the vocational expert using a hypothetical individual’s age, education, and limitations.  The VE will then testify as to whether there are any jobs the individual would still be able to perform.  Your attorney will cross-examine the vocational expert with any additional limitations that you may suffer from in an attempt to reduce the number of jobs to the point the VE testifies that the hypothetical individual is not employable.  Although your testimony is critical, care should be taken to ensure your record is complete and properly documents your limitations.  The ultimate goal is for the ALJ to find that your limitations are similar to the hypothetical employee that the VE testified was not employable.

Like any other legal proceeding, you should be well prepared for your hearing.  If a vocational expert is called as a witness, preparation should be taken to pose appropriate and reasonable questions to ensure all of your limitations are factored in when the VE testifies as to job numbers.