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How Do Medical and Vocational Experts Affect SSD Cases?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

shutterstock_1585711024-1.jpgFor those who suffer from physical or mental conditions that prevent them from working full-time, Social Security disability can provide essential financial assistance. However, the process of applying for these benefits can sometimes be complicated, and applicants will need to provide extensive documentation demonstrating that their condition is severe enough to be considered a disability by Social Security. If a claim is denied, a person can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The testimony of medical and vocational experts can play an important role in this type of hearing. By understanding the types of issues these experts will address, a person can make sure they are taking the correct steps to receive the benefits they need.

Testimony of Medical Experts

A medical expert (ME) who testifies at a hearing will serve as an independent, impartial source who can review evidence and offer an opinion about a person’s limitations that may affect their ability to work. An ME will not physically examine a person; instead, they will review medical records and testimony provided by an applicant or other witnesses and answer questions asked by the ALJ and the applicant or their attorney. 

A medical expert will not offer opinions about whether a person is disabled or the specific types of work they can perform. Their testimony may address whether the person’s symptoms meet or are equivalent to the requirements detailed in Social Security’s Listing of Impairments. They may also offer their opinion on the limitations that may apply to a person while working, such as their ability to perform physical actions like lifting or carrying items, their ability to meet the mental demands of the workplace, their ability to maintain concentration and consistent pace, and how issues related to their sight, hearing, or other senses will affect the work they can perform. The information provided may be used to help the ALJ establish a person’s residual functional capacity (RFC).

Testimony of Vocational Experts

A vocational expert (VE) may testify in a hearing about the types of work an applicant may be able to perform while following certain limitations. A VE will have knowledge of the physical and mental demands of different occupations and the types and numbers of jobs that are available in the United States. When a VE testifies during a hearing, the ALJ will usually pose hypothetical questions, asking if a person of a certain age and with a certain level of education and experience would be able to find work that fits within specific limitations. A vocational expert will not offer an opinion on whether a person is disabled, but their descriptions of the types of jobs that may be available may inform the ALJ’s decision about whether a person should be able to maintain employment and support themselves.

Contact Our Dallas County SSD Hearing Lawyers

The testimony of medical and vocational experts can be a significant factor in a Social Security disability hearing. Applicants will need to make sure they have an attorney on their side who can ask the right questions and respond correctly to the testimony provided. At The Law Offices of Coats & Todd, we can provide you with representation during the SSD claim process, ensuring that you provide the proper information and take the best steps to protect your right to receive benefits. Contact our Collin County Social Security disability claim attorneys at 972-671-9922 to arrange your free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/public_experts/Medical_Experts_(ME)_Handbook-508.pdf

https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-6-70.html

https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/public_experts/Vocational_Experts_(VE)_Handbook-508.pdf


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