How Will a Vocational Expert’s Testimony Affect My Social Security Disability Claim?

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  2. How Will a Vocational Expert’s Testimony Affect My Social Security Disability Claim?

Some things (in fact, lots of things) about Social Security Disability Insurance  (SSDI or “disability benefits”) disability hearings are confusing. Among them is the fact that the Vocational Expert (“VE”) at your hearing may testify about jobs that you have never done before and may not even exist where you live. The VE’s testimony may affect your social disability claim, so it’s natural to wonder what is going on here?


To understand why you might hear testimony from the Vocational Expert providing examples of jobs including “hand picker” or a “surveillance system monitor” or other jobs you never knew existed, you must understand that the focus of the hearing is not on your medical diagnosis. Instead, what matters is whether the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determines you can work long enough and consistently enough to support yourself (i.e., engage in gainful activity) despite your condition or not.

If it is determined that you cannot go back to the work you used to do, then the ALJ hearing your social security disability claim must decide whether there is “other work” that you can do.

The Vocational Expert is an expert in employment duties and knows how an employer would accommodate persons with various physical or mental disabilities.

The VE will testify about jobs that a hypothetical individual could do given your age, skills, experience, education, and limitations. Sometimes they will go through a lot of jobs and sometimes not so many. Generally, what is going on is that the ALJ is trying to figure out just where on the disability spectrum the evidence falls in your social security disability claim. If you are above the line, you are disabled. If you are below the line, you are not. When the ALJ has the Vocational Expert go through a lot of jobs that a hypothetical individual could do, it can mean that the ALJ is trying to decide just how close to the line your situation falls.

However, just because the Vocational Expert testified that there are jobs that a hypothetical individual can do that does not necessarily mean that the ALJ will deny your social security disability claim.

Knowing whether the ALJ has posed proper questions to the VE and understanding the VE’s responses is one of the main reasons why it is important that you be represented by an experienced disability lawyer at your disability hearing.


If you have been denied benefits or are thinking of filing a social security disability claim, call us. As experienced Social Security disability attorneys, we are passionate about getting people the disability benefits they deserve. We have helped many people apply for SSDI benefits and appeal benefit denials. We have offices in Springfield and many other cities in Missouri; throughout Kansas; in Illinois; in Arkansas; and in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We offer FREE consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at (618) 732-0146 or submit a Contact Form to schedule your free Social Security disability claim consultation today.

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