What is the Role of the Vocational Expert at Your SSDI Hearing?

You have filed a Social Security Disability benefits claim which was denied from the initial application, so you applied for an administrative law hearing to reconsider your claim. You have received a letter informing you that the Social Security Administration will be using a Vocation Expert (VE) at the hearing. The role of the vocational expert at a Social Security Disability hearing is often misunderstood, so here are a few questions and answers that should give you some insight as to their purpose and how they might help or hinder your SSDI case.

Q: What is a vocational expert?

A:  A vocational expert (VE) is an expert witness that the Social Security Administration may call to testify at your hearing to appeal your SSDI benefits application. A VE is considered an expert in the fields of vocational rehabilitation, earning capacity, vocational capacity, and they can evaluate a person’s ability to perform work tasks and activities of daily living.

Q: What is the vocational expert’s role in a SSDI hearing?

A: The VE is there to provide evidence regarding whether you can do work you have done in the past now given the limitations of your current medical impairments and how they impact your ability to walk, sit, stand, bend and lift objects, work with others, and follow directions. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will ask the VE hypothetical questions about what kinds of jobs someone with your residual functional capacity (RFC) can do.

Q: Whose side is the VE on in the hearing?

A: The vocational expert is neutral. They are not at the hearing to help you get approved for benefits, but neither are they there to make sure that you do not get approved. The VE is present at the hearing to answer questions posed by the ALJ, and answer questions that your disability lawyer might have about the testimony they have offered.

Q: When does the SSA require the services of a vocational expert?

A: If your medical condition does not match one of the SSA’s impairment listings, or if the information you provided in your application was not sufficient to assess your ability to work, the SSA may hire a vocational expert to testify at your SSDI hearing.

Q: How important is the vocational expert’s testimony in a Social Security Disability hearing?

A: The VE’s testimony can make or break your case for disability benefits. The Administrative Law Judge will offer their opinion about what types of jobs you may be able to perform given the limitations of your disability, but the vocational expert’s opinion about what kinds of work you may be able to do could potentially determine whether your application for disability benefits is approved.

Q: How might a Social Security Disability attorney represent me in a SSDI hearing?

A: A Social Security Disability attorney will be beneficial to you at the appeal hearing stage of your Social Security Disability benefits application, because they will use their experience in helping other disabled clients win their claim for benefits. After the vocational expert and the Administrative Law Judge have asked and answered a series of hypothetical questions about how your impairments might impact your ability to work in any kind of job, your attorney then has the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and clarify points of information relevant to your medical condition and how it has impacted your life and your ability to work.

The hearing stage of your disability claim is where having the services of an experienced disability attorney on your side can be the most helpful and reassuring to you. As your Philadelphia Social Security Disability lawyer questions the VE and the judge, you will probably feel grateful that you did not try to go through this process on your own without a strong legal advocate on your side to protect your rights.

If you are looking for a knowledgeable SSD attorney who will represent your application for benefits or appeal an initial denial, you are encouraged to contact Larry Pitt & Associates. We can answer any question you might have about the process, and our experienced Philadelphia Social Security Disability lawyers represent the injured and ill throughout Pennsylvania. To schedule a free consultation, you may to call 888.PITT.LAW or fill out our quick contact form. We are here to serve families in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.



Larry Pitt

Larry Pitt

If you've been injured, Larry Pitt & Associates can provide you with the legal assistance and representation you need to ensure that justice is served. Get in touch today for a free consultation to discuss your case. Whether it’s a work injury, auto accident, medical malpractice, or any other injury-related matter, we are here to help make sure your rights and interests are respected. We understand the stress and frustration that can accompany an injury, and we are committed to providing thorough legal guidance and support throughout the entire process.