Regardless of the reason why an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) has a vocational expert (“VE”) testify at a hearing for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits, a claimant should consider retaining their own VE.
I represent a former carpenter with hand and shoulder impairments, whose SSD application was approved following an Appeals Council remand. His case turned on a report submitted by his VE.
The Social Security VE at the hearing testified that while the claimant only had use of his left hand and upper extremity, he could do jobs, such as working as a parking attendant and toll collector. I got the VE to admit that her testimony was not based on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Furthermore, I persuaded the ALJ that it was poor reasoning to assume that a person without use of their dominant upper extremity could be trusted to park cars safely, or grab money and operate a cash register with one hand.
The claimant’s VE, who has also worked as a VE at SSD hearings, had submitted a report concluding that the claimant was incapable of any full time work due to his impairments. The ALJ gave greater weight to the claimant’s VE, than to the hearing VE. Importantly, that means that the ALJ gave some weight to the hearing VE. Therefore, in the absence of the claimant’s VE, his SSD claim would have been denied.