Why Does the Social Security Administration use Vocational Experts at Social Security Disability Hearings?

If you have recently received a social security disability hearing notice, you may find on the paperwork that they have disclosed that they will be using a vocational expert at the hearing. The presence of a vocational expert (VE) at a hearing isn’t uncommon though as VEs attend about 85% of disability hearings.

What Does a Vocational Expert Do at the Hearing?

The VE will classify your prior job. The judge and your attorney will likely ask you questions about your prior work including what kind of tasks you performed and how long you performed those tasks. The VE will then classify each of your prior jobs to determine whether you can do your past work, and, if you can’t, whether you have transferable skills.

An administrative law judge (ALJ) will then ask the vocational expert a series of questions, called hypotheticals, based on your residual functional capacity. If the VE testifies that you can do your prior work, your claim will be denied by the ALJ. If you can no longer do your past work, he will testify regarding whether you can do any other work and whether you have any transferable skills. If the VE testifies that there are other jobs you can do despite your limitations, your claim will likely be denied.

It is important to note that you or your attorney has the right to cross-examine the VE regarding their testimony.