It can be quite common for an administrative judge to call upon a vocational expert’s (VE) presence during a disability hearing. A vocational expert is an individual appointed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as an ‘expert witness’ that is familiarized with various aspects of the current labor market. A VE will be well informed about current job availability, job requirements and the specific level of skill required to perform a particular job. A Judge would call upon a VE’s presence at a hearing in order to determine if the claimant still holds the ability to perform their prior job or if the claimant encompass any transferable skills that would permit them to acquire alternative work. A VE will consider the severity of the claimant’s disability relative to their ability to perform work related tasks, the claimant’s age, education and work history to determine whether the claimant is able to perform any alternative work. If the VE believes that the claimant is able to perform alternative work, he or she will provide a list of alternative jobs to be considered in the case, as well as provide the statistical data for position availability relative to the claimant’s residential area. A VE’s opinion holds a substantial amount of weight in the outcome of the claimant’s case. A VE plays a significant role in whether a claimant’s disability case is approved or disapproved. If, after the cross-examination of the VE, the VE’s opinion on the claimant’s ability to perform past relevant work or alternative work still hold true, then the administrative judge will deny the claim. On the other hand, if a VE’s opinion determines that the claimant does not hold the residual functional capacity to preform past or alternative work, then the chances for the claim to be approved increases exponentially.

By: Matt Liebenhaut