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The Role of a Vocational Expert in Social Security Disability Cases

Vocational Expert in Social Security Disability

There are numerous aspects of your SSDI application that may be unfamiliar to you. Vocational experts play a key role in explaining your limitations and your ability to work. If you’re approaching this part of your disability application process, learn more about what vocational experts do and how they may affect your hearing.

Looking for personalized assistance with your SSDI application? It’s time to talk to the team at The Dansby Law Firm. Call us at 334-326-6449 to set up a consultation with our team of Montgomery disability lawyers.


What is a Vocational Expert?

Vocational experts take an in-depth look at your work history and experience to determine what you have done in the past and what work you may be capable of doing. They have professional experience in this field, bringing knowledge of the labor market and vocational rehabilitation to the table. The SSA hires vocational experts to answer questions during disability hearings and provide relevant insights.


Their Role in Your Hearing

A vocational expert’s experience and knowledge can be a crucial component of your disability hearing. Their goal is to provide objective insight into your work history and current ability to work. When answering questions posed by the Administrative Law Judge, they may discuss your previous jobs, demands placed upon you in your previous jobs, and whether or not your work skills are transferable to other jobs. Their input helps the ALJ make decisions regarding your eligibility for benefits and your ability to work.


How They Assess Your Prior Jobs

A big part of the vocational expert’s job is doing a deep dive into your relevant work history. Your past relevant work includes all work done within the past 15 years, assuming that those jobs involved substantial gainful activity. As they go through your work history, the vocational expert will determine the physical demand, skill level, and vocational qualifications needed for each job you’ve held. They consider a variety of factors to do this, including your job duties in each role, responsibilities assigned to you, your work environment, physical exertion, and mental exertion.

While assessing your work history and how it may apply to your current ability to work, the vocational expert may also look at how often you worked in the past fifteen years and how long you worked at each job. Working jobs for a short duration may indicate that those jobs exacerbated your disability or were outside the limits of what you could handle.


Assessing Your Ability to Work

With the background information gathered from your work history, the vocational expert will also help determine whether or not you are still able to work. They do this by figuring out your residual functional capacity. An individual’s RFC indicates their ability to perform work-related tasks with their disabilities. The vocational expert assigned to your case may review all of your medical evidence to get a full understanding of your mental and physical limitations.

The vocational expert will give their opinion on your RFC, outlining what you are still able to do and what limitations you have. This information is used to determine if you are able to engage in the work you used to do or work in any other field.

While the vocational expert’s input does help the ALJ make their final decision, they are not directly involved in making a determination regarding your eligibility. Since they are intended to be impartial and objective, they do not decide whether or not you are able to work—they just give their professional opinion, and the Administrative Law Judge goes from there.

Having so many people involved in your disability application process can be overwhelming, but working with an experienced disability attorney can help you know what to expect throughout this process and during your hearing.


Get the Help You Need with Your SSDI Application—Contact The Dansby Law Firm

At The Dansby Law Firm, we are committed to helping you submit the strongest application possible and feel confident about your hearing. Let us use our experience and knowledge to help you—set up a consultation today. Just call us at 334-326-6449 or reach out online to set up a consultation now.

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