I’ve been told that at an expert might testify at my Social Security disability appeal hearing and recommend other jobs I could do even with my medical condition. What kind of information must be included with the recommendation?

You’re talking about a vocational expert. This person is a specially contracted expert witness who possesses a great deal of knowledge about the current job market. The goal of the vocational expert attending your Social Security disability benefits appeal hearing is to determine if you are capable of doing any of the following:

  • Work you’ve done in the past in the same way you’ve done it in the past
  • Work you’ve done in the past in a different way
  • Other work

If the vocational expert agrees that you can no longer perform past work but is of the opinion that you could do a different type of work, then it is the vocational expert’s duty to back up that suggestion with evidence.

What the Vocational Expert Should Provide

The vocational expert will typically use the U.S. Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to supply the job titles of any work that the vocational expert believes you can do, the reference number associated with those job titles in DOT, and the number of positions available nearby. The vocational expert just needs to prove that you can do other work and that such work is available. It is not the vocational expert’s responsibility to prove that you can be hired.

Cross-Examination Is Important

An experienced Social Security disability lawyer may be able to cross-examine the vocational expert and establish why the vocational expert’s thinking about your ability to perform other types of job is flawed. This could significantly help your odds of getting your claim approved at this level of appeal.

You should consult with a Social Security disability lawyer before your hearing. You deserve to go into your hearing prepared and knowing what to expect both from the vocational expert and the administrative law judge. To learn more, please contact us by phone or via this website to schedule an initial consultation. We also invite you to download a FREE copy of our book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know for more information about the Social Security disability process.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law