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Vocational Expert (VE) Witnesses and SSDI Hearings

Author: Jonathan Ginsberg

Original Publication Date: 2010-05-18

Synopsis and Key Points:

A Vocational Expert or VE in SSDI hearings is an individual who has expertise in several key disability areas.

Main Digest

A Vocational Expert or VE in SSDI hearings is an individual who has expertise in several key disability areas.

What is a Vocational Expert (VE)

A Vocational Expert or VE as they are more commonly referred to in SSDI hearings is an individual who has expertise in several key areas such as:

cost of replacement labor

earnings capacity

lost ability and time to perform household tasks

vocational capacity

vocational rehabilitation

Additionally, the VE is a key component with Disability hearings because they perform certain evaluations relative to your actual capacity to perform daily tasks both at home or at work. These evaluations can benefit you during your hearing based on how they associate your earnings capacity based on how serious your medical condition is. They are bound by law to be completely impartial and objective when presenting information regarding your Disability case.

The role of the VE in an SSDI hearing

The VE's role in an SSDI hearing is to identify what you could have earned prior to the onset of your medical condition. Additionally, the VE provides the judge at your hearing with an overview of the types of work you were able to perform prior to the onset of disability. They do this by incorporating their experience and their knowledge and in most cases, they will review up to 15 years of your prior work history.

What necessitates a VE's testimony

Typically, an ALJ or Administrative Law Judge will solicit a VE's testimony because they have pertinent questions requiring specific answers regarding your case. Additionally, this benefits you because your testimony alone will not be sufficient when providing the answers that the ALJ is looking for. Having a VE testify on your behalf should never be construed as being either negative or positive.

Their mere presence as well as their testimony oftentimes indicates what the ALJ prefers. Despite the fact that ALJ's rarely request the presence and testimony of a VE, other judges will oftentimes request this whether it is a clear-cut and simple case or a difficult one. The VE is never an agent of the SSA (Social Security Administration). Due to the fact that they are a completely independent party speaking on your behalf in your hearing, they are obligated to remain totally impartial and objective when voicing their opinions. About the Author

Jonathan Ginsberg has been practicing Social Security Disability law in the Atlanta, Georgia area for over 20 years. His website can be found at

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