If you are encountering issues with your disability benefit claim, you may learn about the term “vocational witness” or “vocational expert.” A vocational witness within the context of your SSDI hearing is an individual who is an expert in vocational rehabilitation, vocation abilities, earning abilities, and more. They provide expert testimony as part of the disability application process or at hearings before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
If your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim has reached the point where a vocational witness is being employed, it could be helpful for you to reach out to a California disability lawyer today for a consultation. Read on for more information about what a vocational witness is, what it means for your case, and how a disability attorney can help ease the process and maximize your benefits.
The role of the vocational witness is not to advocate specifically for one side or the other in the dispute. Instead, the vocational witness is meant, as detailed by the Social Security Administration, to provide impartial expert witness testimony and evidence that the claim examiner or administrative law judge incorporates into their decision on your disability.
You and your attorney should have the opportunity to review all information and opinions presented by the witness. Depending on whether the findings are in your favor or not, your attorney might try to challenge the witness and related evidence.
While a vocational witness can be extremely helpful to your case, the evidence they present could also harm your outcome. The court asks vocational experts to provide evidence to the SSA or administrative law judge, which might include:
- Opinions that you can or cannot work based on the nature of your past work, level of exertion it requires, and your impairments
- Opinions whether you can perform other jobs other than your previous work, such as more sedentary positions
If the witness states you can perform your past work or a number of other less strenuous jobs, your attorney will need to challenge this opinion by cross-examining the witness in front of the ALJ. They might point out limitations caused by your impairments that the witness failed to consider, aiming to eliminate the jobs the expert witness claimed you could perform.
If you have an upcoming SSDI hearing, you may be scrambling to get your evidence in order while also reviewing any opinions by a vocational witness to be considered by the ALJ. Do not face this process alone – reach out to a local attorney with experience handling disability cases and who knows how to challenge vocational experts and unfavorable evidence.