Of the many confusing aspects of the disability process, one thing that continually mystifies many claimants is the role of vocational experts at a disability hearing.
Vocational experts are called to testify at nearly every single adult disability hearing. They typically have experience with job rehabilitation, placing people in positions they are qualified for in the local job market.
In addition to their experience in job placement, which can include taking surveys and observing jobs as they are usually performed, vocational experts are supposed to be familiar with federal government publications about how these jobs are generally performed and how many are available in the national economy.
At a disability hearing, a judge and your attorney will ask the vocational expert several hypothetical questions based on your medical records about what sort of jobs you may be capable of. The vocational expert provides their opinion about whether you could do your past work, or other jobs in the national economy.
This testimony can be crucial to obtaining a favorable decision, but as any disability attorney will tell you, it also varies quite a bit depending on the vocational expert who is called to testify. Some will very quickly say that there are no jobs out there. Others will find extremely obscure positions that it’s questionable whether these jobs have existed for decades.
But luckily, disability attorneys are well versed on cross examining vocational experts, and can use that experience at a hearing to obtain the most favorable evidence possible.