Monday, April 25, 2016

Vocational Report Pays Off

Disability claims involve both medical and vocational issues. However, while disability claimants frequently pay for medical reports, they rarely consider investing in a vocational report. I represent a former construction manger with neck and back problems who was approved for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits today because after an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) reviewed the claimant’s vocational report. 

The ALJ had scheduled a hearing with a Vocational Expert (“VE”) from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). I submitted a letter to the ALJ objecting to the SSA VE because the claimant had submitted a report from his own VE, who also happens to serve as a VE for the SSA. My letter explained why none of the reasons set forth in the HALLEX for scheduling a VE to testify applied. The Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law Manual (“HALLEX”) is a compilation of rules from the Social Security Administration's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (“ODAR”). Moreover, the claimant’s VE was available to answer any questions that the ALJ might have. 

When the ALJ originally scheduled the hearing, he did not read the VE report. That is because, as frequently happens, that evidence had been excluded from the file. After I resubmitted the VE report, together with the receipt showing that the SSA had received it, the ALJ approved the SSD application without a hearing. As a result, the claimant will be awarded in excess of $100,000. Money well spent for the VE report.

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