What is a Vocational Expert?

When you head to your administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing there’s a lot to remember. What to do, what to say, what to bring, and all the different people who will be there. You’ll obviously be there, hopefully you’ll have a Parkersburg disability lawyer with you, the judge will be there, and a vocational expert will probably be there too.


A vocational expert is there to be an unbiased third party. These experts are well trained and educated on lost wages, the job field, disability, and other relevant issues. The ALJ will appoint a vocational expert in every case that non-exertion limitations are claimed. Non-exertion limitations refer to all limitations that are not limitations like the ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, push and pull.


Vocational experts won’t always actually be in the room during the hearing, sometimes they will be phoned in. Whether in person or on the phone, the ALJ will ask them questions about your job opportunities and your disability, such as:


  • Can the claimant perform their old job?
  • What other jobs can the claimant perform?
  • How does the claimant’s disability limit their job options?


After the judge finishes questioning the vocational expert, you or your West Virginia social security attorney will be allowed to question them. If the vocational expert claimed there were jobs you’re capable of doing, this time allows you to possibly show why they are wrong.


Vocational experts typically have a large impact on the judge’s decision, so you need to be prepared for them. Since they have no stake in the matter they aren’t working against you, but they certainly aren’t trying to do you any favors.


An experienced social security disability lawyer will know and prepare for the vocational expert and help you get through your ALJ hearing.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law