VOCATIONAL EXPERT TESTIMONY MUST BE BASED ON EVIDENCE
VOCATIONAL EXPERT TESTIMONY AT HEARING
Vocational expert testimony requires evidence at a disability hearing. If you have appeared at a hearing before an SSA judge, a vocational expert probably gave testimony during your hearing. Vocational experts are often called by the judge to testify about the number of jobs that are available to a claimant. The ALJ presents a hypothetical to the VE. Then, the VE testifies if you can jobs work with the physical or mental issues found by the ALJ. Likewise, your attorney presents a hypothetical question to the VE. That question is also based upon your testimony and your medical impairments. At Cannon Disability, we have the experience you need to cross-examine the vocational expert at your hearing.
7TH CIRCUIT REVERSES ALJ BECAUSE VOCATIONAL EXPERT TESTIMONY REQUIRESEVIDENCE
Recently, in Brace v. Saul (7th Circuit 08/17/2020), https://roguevalleylegal.com/summaries/08142020ss.pdf
the Seventh Circuit held for the claimant. Brace, the claimant, applied for Social Security disability benefits. His claim for disability was based on a number of chronic conditions— mostly back and neck pain due to degenerative disc disease. An administrative law judge from the SSA denied his application. The ALJ’s denial relied on testimony from a vocational ex
pert. The VE testified at the hearing that jobs were available in significant numbers in the national economy for a person with Brace’s limitations.
The SSA does not care whether a job is in your area, near your home, or how much it pays. The judge does not need to consider common sense factors, as if you were searching for a job. Instead, the judge looks at whether or not there are jobs available to you, based upon your physical and mental impairments, in the entire nation.
Most judges are not experts in how many and what types of jobs there are in the country. They are also not experts at placing people with disabilities in those jobs. Therefore, they hire a vocational expert to testify about those issues at the hearing.
At Brace’s hearing, the VE said he could perform certain jobs, even with his physical disabilities. Brace’s lawyer asked the VE to explain how he arrived at his job estimates. The VE did not have a viable answer for how he came up with the number of jobs the claimant could do. But, the ALJ accepted his testimony anyway and then rejected Brace’s claim for benefits. The 7th Circuit disagreed with the judge’s decision. They held that the VE must provide proof for his testimony. If the VE does not provide proof, then the judge’s decision is not based on substantial evidence. Thus, the 7th Circuit reversed and remanded Brace’s case.
HIRE AN ATTORNEY AT CANNON DISABILITY TO CROSS-EXAMINE THE VOCATIONAL EXPERT
The truth is you need an attorney to cross-examine the vocational expert. You may be able to provide testimony on your own to the judge, but when it comes time to ask questions of the VE, you won’t know what to do. The vocational part of the hearing is hard to understand. Likewise, the rules regarding the categories of jobs and how physical impairments fit into those categories are complex. If you do not have an attorney, you can lose your hearing due to vocational expert testimony.
The attorneys at Cannon Disability have won over $100 million dollars for their clients. We have the experience you need in court to win your case. We represent clients in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and California.
Find out more about our representatives. Dianna Cannon has been practicing disability law for over 30 years. Brett Bunkall has won hundreds of cases in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and California. Andria Summers has worked at Cannon Disability for 19 years and has helped thousands of claimants win disability benefits.
Contact us today to hire a disability attorney with experience.