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Why Is A Vocational Expert Testifying At My Hearing?

  • Published: July 12, 2012

If you have just received word from your Ocala disability attorney that a vocational expert will be testifying at your hearing, you are probably wondering two things: (1) What is a vocational expert? and (2) Why is he testifying at my hearing?  Your Ocala disability attorney can provide a detail explanation specific to your case but here is some general information about vocational experts and why their testimony can be important in a given disability case.

A vocational expert is one of two types of experts who your judge can ask to testify in your case.  The other type of expert is a medical expert.  Judges ask vocational experts to testify more frequently than medical experts.  There are some judges out there who ask vocational experts to testify in almost all of their cases involving adult disability.  Their testimony can be important enough to make or break a case.

Vocational Experts Cannot Provide Medical Opinion

While their testimony is very important, there are some key things they cannot do during your hearing.  They cannot provide their own evaluation of the medical evidence in your case.  They cannot provide an opinion regarding whether you are or are not disabled.  They cannot state whether job vacancies exist for someone with your limitations.  The also cannot state whether you will be hired for a particular job.

Past Relevant Work

The vocational expert’s job is to help your judge understand your “past relevant work.”  “Past relevant work” is the significant jobs that you have done in the past 15 years.  The vocational expert will then tell the judge about all of the jobs you did and how each job is typically performed in the economy.  In his explanation to the judge, the vocational expert will describe the skill and “exertional” level of your past relevant work.

Exertional Level

“Exertional level” is the amount of exertion you have to expend in doing your job.  If you had a job that required you to lift, stand and walk, it pertains to how much you had to do each of these things.  The skill level has to do with how long it would take someone to learn to do your job with average proficiency.  For example, if it would take more than 30 days, it may mean that you have acquired work skills that could be transferable to other, easier jobs. In this case, the vocational expert would describe your transferable skills, state what jobs these skills are transferable to and how many of these jobs there are in the economy.

Judge Will Ask Hypothetical Questions

After your vocational expert describes your past relevant work, exertional level and skill level the judge will probably ask him a series of hypothetical questions in order to figure out whether you can do any past relevant work and whether other jobs exist in significant numbers in the economy for various different capacities for working.  If, at some point, the vocational expert states that you have retained the capacity to do your job as it is typically performed in the economy, the judge may decide to deny you benefits.  Even if your Ocala disability attorney points out that you cannot do the job as you actually used to perform it, the judge may still decide to deny benefits.  Often, after the hearing is over, the judge will consider the vocational expert’s answers to his hypothetical questions and try to determine which one of the hypothetical questions most closely describes you. The judge’s decision may be based on the vocational expert’s answer to that question.

If you need assistance with your disability hearing or are considering filing for disability benefits, contact Ocala disability attorney CJ Henry for a free evaluation of your case.

Claudeth Henry

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