How Important is the Testimony of a Vocational Expert on Your SSDI Appeal

If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your application for SSDI benefits, you must file an appeal and be present at a hearing before an administrative law judge or ALJ. A vocational expert will be hired to testify at the hearing. The expert’s testimony can convince the judge that your disability makes it impossible for you to work and that you qualify to receive SSDI benefits. 

What Are Vocational Experts

Vocational experts are expert witnesses with knowledge of the skills necessary for different jobs, the current job trends, and the labor market. Also, they may have experience in vocational counseling and job placement. While the SSA hires the expert to testify at the appeal hearing, the expert is expected to be impartial.  

What a Vocational Expert Will Do

Before the scheduled appeal hearing, the expert will take their time reviewing your previous history and details of your case. They will be questioned by a judge at the hearing. Then, your Fayetteville social security disability attorney will cross-examine the expert. The testimony of a vocational expert can be crucial in your case since their opinion on your ability to work can directly affect the decision of the judge in your case. They will testify to the following:

  • Your previous jobs. A vocational expert will talk about your previous jobs and whether you have the ability to continue doing them. If you cannot, they will provide an opinion on your job skills that can be transferred to other jobs. 
  • Jobs you can carry out. The expert will provide an opinion on other jobs you could do despite your limitations because of your disabling conditions. The judge and your attorney can ask the expert some hypothetical questions, which are questions based on possibilities including whether a person who suffers from the same impairments could do your previous and other jobs. 
  • Cross-examination. An experienced attorney who is representing you can cross-examine the expert after they have been questioned by the judge. When they support your claim, this will be enforced by your lawyer by eliciting other responses that favor your position in the case. But, if the expert claims that you are capable of performing other jobs, your attorney will challenge this opinion and prove otherwise. 

An administrative law judge can only make decisions based on the evidence presented to them.  If a vocational expert says you can work and you can’t provide proof that this testimony is not right, the judge may need to deny your claim. 

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