Social Security Disability and SSI claims often involve vocational information and testimony from vocational experts. Sometimes vocational information is in a report from a person who has never seen the claimant, but simply has reviewed the record. More often a vocational expert appears at the hearing to provide testimony. After a finding of medical disability, the question becomes whether the claimant can do past work or any other work, perhaps at a lighter or sedentary level. A 55-year-old coal miner with a fifth grade education is in a different position than a 40-year-old with a graduate degree.
Vocational experts are trained to assess an individual’s age, education, and past work to determine “transferable” skills that would allow them to move into another job. The Administrative Law Judge calls a vocational expert to identify the skill and exertional level of a claimant’s past relevant work and to indicate what jobs are available in the local or national economy, considering the claimant’s age, education, work experience, physical and mental limitations and “transferable” skills. If the Administrative Law Judge determines that the claimant can still perform any kind of full-time work, disability may be denied. The issue is not whether a person could be hired for a particular job, but whether a person retains the capacity to perform any other type of work.
The Social Security Administration recognizes that as people age, the ability to adapt to new skills, tools and work settings diminishes. If pain and/or fatigue impose significant limitations, this can reduce the pool of available jobs. The vocational expert should be cross-examined to determine if the claimant can fully perform the job suggested. Developing evidence of mental, physical, educational and vocational limitations is critical in a disability claim. Social Security’s regulations in this area are complex. In claims where the final decision rests on an analysis of “vocational” factors, it is very important for the claimant to be represented by an attorney who regularly deals with these issues.
If you need more information about a personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), Social Security Disability or SSI matter, EEOICPA claim, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.