The vocational expert’s role at an SSDI hearing

| Apr 16, 2020 | SSDI

If your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is denied, and your request for reconsideration is also unsuccessful, the next step is to request an administrative hearing. The hearing resembles a trial in many ways, including the use of witness testimony.

Usually, among these witnesses will be a professional vocational expert. He or she is a neutral witness whose job is to know the current job market in your area, as well as the skills needed to perform various jobs.

Expert opinion on your ability to work

As part of the hearing, the vocational witness will give his or her opinion on how your condition affects your ability to work. Specifically, whether there are jobs available for someone with your skillset and abilities. The administrative law judge (ALJ) may then question the vocational witness. Your attorney will also have the chance to ask questions to help rule out hypothetical jobs you cannot perform.

The vocational witness’ testimony can be key. If he or she concludes that you cannot go back to your past job and that there are no jobs available for someone in your condition, the ALJ is likely to rule in your favor and award you disability benefits. On the other hand, if the vocational witness claims that there are hypothetical jobs you could be hired to do and perform reasonably well, your appeal will almost certainly be denied. Your lawyer’s chance to cross-examine the vocational witness can make a huge difference in influencing the ALJ’s conclusion.

Helping you get ready for your SSDI hearing

At the same time, there are other factors to prepare for, such as the testimony of other witnesses. You might even testify yourself. Your attorney will go over the procedures and what to expect at the hearing so you will be ready.