A vocational expert is present and generally will testify at every Social Security disability hearing. Due to the impact of the pandemic, most vocational experts will now appear at your hearing by telephone despite if your hearing is in-person, by video, or by telephone. A vocational expert essentially is an expert witness who has knowledge about the job availability in the current labor market as well as the skills needed to perform certain jobs. Simply put, a judge uses a vocational expert to determine whether you can do you past work or other work available in the economy. At your hearing, the judge will first ask the vocational expert to classify any past relevant work that you may have done in the past. This work is generally performed within the last fifteen years and is must meet certain requirements to be classified as past relevant work. After classification of past relevant work, the judge will then give hypothetical questions for the vocational expert to answer. These hypothetical questions typically include a variety of physical and mental limitations. An example of a hypothetical may be the following: “An individual of the same age, educational level, and work history as the claimant and this individual cannot stand more than 4 hours out of an 8-hour day, able to lift 10 pounds occasionally, less than 10 pounds frequently, cannot reach overhead with the upper right extremity, and is only able to perform simple routine repetitive work.” The vocational expert then must tell the judge whether those limitations listed in the hypothetical allow you do perform any of your past relevant work. If no past relevant work can be done within the bounds of those limitations, the vocational expert will then testify as to what jobs (if there are any) can be performed with those work-related limitations given in the hypothetical. Your attorney will also have a chance to question the vocational expert to try and rule out any jobs listed. Overall, to learn more about how a vocational expert can impact your specific disability claim, you should consult an experienced attorney. Having your specific background (age, education, past work etc.), medical issues, limitations, and abilities assessed prior to the hearing will help you better prepare for how a vocational expert may testify in your case.
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Social Security Disability Hearing: Vocational Experts
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