What Is the Role of a Vocational Expert in the Disability Application Process?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Many disability applications may be initially denied. The denial letter can come as a major blow as people spend so much time gathering the necessary materials for the initial application and wait with great hope that their claim will be approved. The good news, however, is that many people go on to successfully appeal this initial denial and receive disability benefits. As part of the appeals process, you may need to attend an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) disability hearing. At the hearing, you are likely to hear from a vocational expert (VE). The VE can play an integral role in the appeals process and, therefore, you should at least try to have a basic sense of what the VE is there to do.

What Is the Role of a Vocational Expert in the Disability Application Process?

A VE is a kind of expert witness that the Social Security Administration will call to testify at a disability appeal hearing. A VE is considered an expert in the area of job availability in the current labor market as well as the skills necessary to be qualified to perform certain jobs. The VE will testify in the majority of disability hearings to testify as to several critical aspects of the disability benefits application process.

The VE, for instance, will answer questions posed by the ALJ regarding what jobs you can still perform even given the asserted restrictions placed upon you by your disabling condition. Furthermore, the VE will testify as to the number of jobs that are available to you in the current market and under your current circumstances. The VE will do so by discussing a number of relevant factors. The VE will speak to your past jobs and what transferable job skills you possess. Should the VE believe that you could still perform your old job even with your documented impairments, it is likely that your disability claim will be denied. If the VE testifies that you cannot perform your old job, but you could still perform other jobs, these potential jobs will be listed by title, code, and a number of available positions in your area. Your disability claim is also likely to be denied because of this.

This is why the VE plays such a critical role in the disability benefits application process. What the VE has to say about your ability to retain gainful employment even with your current impairments can make or break your case. That is why it can be so important that you have your own dedicated legal counsel at your ALJ hearing. Your attorney will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions of the VE. The opinion of the VE will be subject to this challenge and could very well save your appeal prospects.

Riverside Disability Attorney

Are you looking for dedicated legal counsel to tirelessly pursue your right to disability benefits at your ALJ hearing? Look no further than the trusted disability attorneys at Disability Advocates Group. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.