Social Security disability hearings, which occur when an applicant appeals a denial again after going through the reconsideration process for their initial application, deal with complex medical, regulatory, and vocational issues. While administrative law judges generally understand the subjects involved, they cannot possibly become experts on all medical conditions or all vocational situations.
To address this issue, the Social Security Administration (SSA) often brings in vocational and medical expert witnesses to explain various factors affecting the case. These experts help the judge determine how the standards should be applied to a particular situation.
Importantly, the applicant may also bring in testimony from expert witnesses to support their own claim at an Alpharetta Social Security Disability hearing. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer from our team could advise you on how to seek out experts for your own case and/or conduct cross-examination of experts provided by the SSA at your SSDI hearing.
The SSA uses vocational professionals from outside the agency to review evidence and answer questions during a disability hearing. Vocational experts are supposed to understand the local job market, job requirements and conditions, and the SSA’s procedures for evaluating disabilities.
In a large percentage of disability hearings, vocational experts provide an opinion as to the types of employment a claimant is able to perform. Judges often rely heavily on these opinions when determining whether an applicant qualifies to receive disability benefits.
A vocational expert may give testimony in person or by telephone or via video teleconferencing. Vocational experts may also provide information in writing in response to interrogatories.
As part of their testimony, a vocational expert witness would review the job duties present in a claimant’s previous employment history, as well as their overall work experience. The vocational expert usually then classifies the previous jobs and gives an opinion regarding whether the claimant is able to perform those jobs.
If the expert believes the claimant is not able to undertake the functions of a prior job, they then determine how skills may be transferred to a different job. The SSA has regulatory guidelines regarding the transferability of job skills.
A vocational expert witness also usually provides an opinion regarding other jobs in Alpharetta the applicant could hold. Often, the judge asks a series of hypothetical questions to elicit this opinion, using the limitations caused by the medical condition suffered by the claimant. The vocational expert is supposed to not only provide job titles, but also the number of those jobs in the region.
Expert medical witnesses may be used in various capacities during a disability hearing. For instance, a medical expert may be able to testify that a claimant’s medical condition matches one of the conditions on the SSA’s Listing of Impairments that usually prevent workers from continuing in any gainful employment. If the judge is satisfied that a claimant’s condition should be considered a listed condition or equivalent, the claimant may be awarded benefits without needing to prove they have no other vocational options.
A medical expert may also be questioned by the judge to help them gain an understanding of a medical issue and the effect of that issue on the performance of job duties. The claimant or their legal representative may question the expert to highlight certain aspects of a condition and how it affects the claimant’s ability to work. To learn more about the importance of expert witnesses at an Alpharetta social security disability hearing, call an attorney.
Although expert witnesses provided by the SSA are not typically hired to enhance your chances of recovering benefits, there are strategies to help make the most of the opportunities provided by the presence of an expert. Questioning a vocational expert may reveal reasons why you are unable to perform job duties. Likewise, questioning a medical expert may demonstrate to a judge the extent of an impairment caused by a medical condition.
Expert witnesses at an Alpharetta Social Security disability hearing have the ability to help or hinder a claimant’s efforts to receive disability benefits. Fortunately, an experienced Social Security disability lawyer could help you seek out the benefits of expert testimony without weakening your case. Call today to get started.
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