Where does the vocational expert (VE) find these jobs?


I have been to court with many clients who become angry with the vocational expert in their Social Security Disability hearing. This often comes with claims that the VE was desperately trying to find jobs the claimant could perform.


The truth is that while the VE is paid by the Social Security Administration, they are to give a neutral opinion and are not supposed to be on either side. The judge gives hypothetical questions to the vocational expert and the expert must answer based on the hypothetical that is given. Therefore, when a VE states jobs that can be performed, he is not claiming you specifically can do these jobs. Rather the VE is stating that the hypothetical person the judge described could perform these jobs.


How does the vocational expert make this decision? VE's follow what is called the "Dictionary of Occupational Titles" (DOT). It essentially lists what type of jobs a person can do with certain limitations. The problem is it has not been updated since 1991 so oftentimes strange jobs will be named as available. Social Security is in the process of updating this and are hoping to have the new information available by 2019.


An important thing to keep in mind is that just because a vocational expert says there are jobs available does not necessarily mean you have lost your case. Many judges like to throw out a bunch of hypotheticals to cover all their bases.


Social Security Disability attorneys can help you better understand vocational experts and their effect on your disability hearing.

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