Tuesday, April 24, 2012

State Agency Vocational Experts

          The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) frequently uses a vocational expert (“VE”) at a disability hearing to provide information regarding a claimant’s past work and potential alternative work that the claimant can do.  Much less frequently, the State agency, which makes the initial disability determination for the SSA, may also use a VE.  The information that the VEs provide to the State agency need to be examined just as closely as the testimony VEs provide at hearings.

            I represent a 51 year old former National Sales Manager for a camera company, with acute pituitary insufficiency secondary to cerebrovascular insufficiency.  The State agency agreed that the claimant could not do her past work, but denied the application because one of its VEs said the claimant could perform a substantial number of simple unskilled occupations in the economy.  The VE identified three occupations that the claimant could do.

The first occupation the VE cited was a buckle sorter, which has a specific vocational preparation (“SVP”) of 3.  However, unskilled work only has an SVP of 1 or 2.  The second identified occupation was a hand packer, which the VE said had the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”) code number 420.587-018.  However, there is no such DOT code number.  The third occupation the VE cited was cuff folder.  However, there were not a substantial number of cuff folder positions in economy.  More importantly, cuff folder is a sedentary position, and even if the claimant had a sedentary work capacity, the SSA medical vocational rules required finding her disabled.

           After pointing out the VE errors in a letter to the hearing office, the application was approved without a hearing.

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