The Role of Vocational Experts in a Disability Hearing

Disability Hearing Lawyer

A vocational expert (VE) is essentially a witness who can be called upon by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to testify at a disability appeal hearing. VEs are typically present at most disability hearings and must give their qualified opinion about a claimant’s ability to work.

At a hearing, the judge and your legal counsel will ask you questions about your medical and work history. The vocational expert will then assess each of your relevant prior jobs, decide whether you are able to perform your past job duties, and, if not, determine what transferable skills you have.

Your attorney and the judge may ask the VE hypothetical questions based on a hypothetical individual of the same age, education, and past relevant work experience with very specific exertional and non-exertional vocational limitations. VEs cannot form opinions about medical evidence. However, if the vocational expert still believes you are able to perform the work, your disability claim will likely be denied by the presiding judge.

Legal Updates

On October 29th, 2019, the SSA amended the Vocational Expert Consulting Services to include additional qualifications for serving as a vocational expert. All VEs must meet and maintain the following requirements:

  • At least five years of direct experience providing vocational rehabilitation to those with disabilities
  • Current national certification as either a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), or National certification as a Fellow or Diplomate by the American Board of Vocational Experts (ABVE)
  • Meet the continuing education requirements of their national certifications from either the CRCC or ABVE

All new vocational experts must submit documentation of their CRCC or ABVE certification at least 30 days before providing and VE services. They may so do by either testifying at a hearing or by submitting a response to written interrogatories.

If you have any questions about the role a vocational expert plays in a disability hearing or how their testimony can affect your case, do not hesitate to contact our office today.


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