Social Security disability cases are incredibly complex, and the SSA goes to great lengths to evaluate an individual’s ability to work and the extent of their disability. They know that they alone cannot fully determine an individual’s capacity for work, which is why they often bring in experts to help with this task. A vocational expert is one individual that may play a role in your disability case.
Wondering how an attorney could help you fight for disability benefits in Pensacola? Let’s talk about your options. Call Quin Baker at 850-433-0888 to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience.
What is a Vocational Expert?
Vocational experts are trained professionals who have extensive experience in evaluating an individual’s ability to work. When making their assessments, they consider the person’s physical and mental limitations, the type of work they have done before, and the variety of ways in which their work skills may or may not transfer to other fields. They generally have degrees in vocational psychology, rehabilitation counseling, or similar fields.
In addition, they must have specialized training to provide services for the SSA. During their work, they often work alongside administrative law judges. Despite providing services to the SSA, they are expected to be neutral and objective.
How Vocational Experts Assess Disability
When a vocational expert is assigned to your case, they may assess disability in many different ways. They look at your work capacity by learning more about your physical and mental abilities—as well as the limitations caused by your disability. This information allows them to determine whether or not you are capable of engaging in substantial gainful activity. They may explore different jobs that an applicant could do with their current limitations. This involves looking at an applicant’s transferable skills and whether or not those skills could be applied to less demanding industries.
What a Vocational Expert Does During a Hearing
During a Social Security disability hearing, the vocational expert may provide expert testimony and answer questions during cross-examination. The testimony they provide is based on the medical records they’ve reviewed and other information provided by the applicant. During cross-examination, they answer questions posed by the applicant’s attorney.
This is one reason you need to work with a disability attorney; they understand what vocational experts do and how best to use their cross-examination time. If the vocational expert indicates that an applicant is capable of doing work and the attorney disagrees, they can use their cross-examination time to point out inconsistencies or flaws in the expert’s reasoning.
How Their Testimony May Affect Your Case
The words of a vocational expert carry great weight with administrative law judges and the SSA as a whole, so their testimony can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. If they have fully reviewed your documentation and believe that you are too disabled to engage in substantial gainful activity in any field, that could help your case. They may find that there are no suitable jobs that use your skills and align with your physical and mental limitations. This could help your case in the eyes of the judge.
The vocational expert’s testimony and answers may also clarify important issues relating to your case. Remember, the SSA cannot be an expert in everything—they rely on the vocational expert to explain the nuances of your limitations and your work abilities.
While a vocational expert’s words could help your case, they could also hurt your case. If they review your case file and think that you are capable of working in your old field or a related one, they will tell the judge that. Their words will likely influence the judge’s final decision. When this happens, it’s crucial that you have an attorney who is capable of countering their words.
Applying for Disability Benefits? Choose Quin Baker, SSD Lawyer
No matter where you are in the disability application process, Quin Baker is here to help you fight for the benefits you need to survive. We’re ready to learn more about your disability and find out how we can help you. Call us at 850-433-0888 or connect with us online to begin your case.