The testimony of a vocational expert (VE) or medical expert (ME) can often make the difference between winning and losing your case. The advice, guidance and expertise of a disability lawyer in Augusta will be invaluable to you in such situations.
How It Works
Your disability attorney in Augusta can illustrate three primary ways in which experts, both vocational and medical, may offer testimony at your hearing. They may choose to testify by telephone, via videoconference or in person. While in approximately 60% of cases VE testimony is given, ME’s do not testify nearly as often. Both of these types of experts are expected to maintain neutrality. Personal injury or workers’ compensation specialists may be more likely to testify in favor of the insurance company, and thus may not be very helpful to you.
The ME’s Testimony
Your disability attorney in Augusta can verify that if the medical expert can show that your impairment falls within the guidelines under the SSA Listing of Impairments, the ME has won your case for you. Losing the case, however, will probably require more than just testimony from the ME.
The VE’s Testimony
Your disability attorney in Augusta may caution you that while a medical expert can win a case for you, a vocational specialist can cause you to lose one. The purpose of the VE is to find ways to place people with disabilities, either physical or psychological, in employment situations. It is in this area that they have the most experience. For the VE, neutrality has little or nothing to do with the situation. Further, in their usual capacity, the vocational expert is charged with convincing employers to make the accommodations necessary to facilitate employment of people with impairments. Since the SSA is more concerned with what kinds of abilities are required to fulfill the types of employment that are currently available in the job market, they are not interested in employer accommodations.
DOT and the Job Market
Further, SSA will require the VE to have a working knowledge of the DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles). This resource is out of date, and most vocational experts no longer refer to it. Your disability attorney in Augusta can confirm that it is extremely difficult for the VE to be able to provide the SSA with an accurate picture of the number and types of jobs currently available in the local job market, as this is not what they normally do. An educated guess may be the best they are able to offer. Finally, while most VEs will not dispute an ALJ’s inclinations concerning a case, they may be able to give a foundation on which a determination of disabled or not disabled may be made. Thus, they offer the ALJ alternatives and information that can be applied to the final decisions.
Your Lawyer’s Role
It is the function of your disability attorney in Augusta to see that the VE, who is often said to divide the disabled from the non-disabled, puts you in the right place. To facilitate this, your attorney must show that your residual functional capacity places you squarely in the disabled category through compelling evidence and supporting data. Your attorney will outline all your limitations and illustrate these through questioning techniques. If the VE testimony is contrary to this, cross-questioning or a second VE testimony may be required.
The Bench Decision
This decision is handed down by the ALJ when the hearing is over and you have been shown disabled through the applicable evidence and legal findings. Your written confirmation of the decision establishing that benefits are to be paid to you will be sent to you within a matter of days. If the ALJ does not hand down a bench decision, he or she will issue the decision in writing upon the conclusion of the hearing. SSA prefers that ALJs attend to this in a timely manner and with relatively few exceptions most of them comply. Until that decision reaches you, however, your attorney will not be told (if no bench decision is given) the outcome of the case. If the ME confirms that your impairment is listed in or is equal to one in the Listing of Impairments, however, the ALJ may dispense with the VE testimony and the logical conclusion that you have won the case may be considered reasonable.
Don’t Face this Alone:Contact your Disability Attorney today
Be sure that you have the advice, guidance and assistance you will need throughout these proceedings. Contact Wilkinson & Magruder, LLP, your disability attorney in Augusta, by calling 706-737-0771 today.