Can I bring my own vocational or medical expert?On our forum a worker recently asked if they could bring their own vocational and medical expert to their SSDI hearing. This question is great because it means their applicant really understands the disability process and has not waited to prepare for their hearing just a few days before their SSDI case is scheduled to be heard by the administrative law judge.
Who is the vocational expert?
Vocational experts have been used at hearing since the early 1960s. They have testified at thousands of SSI and SSDI hearings. The administrative law judge generally requests that they attend with the expectation that they will provide information about the residual functional capacity of the applicant to work not only their current job or past work but whether the applicant should be able to retrain for work in the national economy.
Do you need your own vocational expert?
Ideally, you will hire a disability lawyer to present your case at the administrative hearing. Assuming that the vocational expert fulfills their role as an impartial and objective witness who is not an employee or agent of the Social Security Administration, your disability lawyer should have ample time to cross-examine the vocational expert and clarify any points which have been made or testimony which could be damaging to your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance case (SSDI).
Keep in mind, the vocational expert may continue to gather evidence throughout the administrative hearing and will be watching to see if the evidence presented in the medical files is substantiated through their observations of the claimant at the administrative hearing.
The bottom line is the V.E. or the vocational expert is not the enemy. Their testimony should be objective and clearly state if you have the ability to go back to work given vocational factors (your age, education, work experience, and residual capacity to work). They will also review your skills which they believe may transfer to other past or future work. The good news is if you have hired a good disability lawyer they should be able to refute any testimony with their own evidence of your limitations to work.
Who is the medical expert?
Medical experts are qualified medical doctors who have been asked to testify at the disability hearing. The medical expert may attend the SSI or SSDI hearing at the request of the administrative law judge.
Occasionally claimants ask if they can bring their own witnesses, such as a medical expert, to their disability hearing. You are allowed to bring a medical expert, but there is no guarantee the administrative law judge will allow them to testify.
If the administrative law judge believes they have enough evidence to decide your case simply through your medical records, through your testimony or through additional observations of your behaviors then they may not allow witnesses to testify.
The best thing to do is to talk to a disability lawyer weeks in advance of your administrative hearing date and find out what they suggest for your hearing. They can review your medical records and determine if you have enough medical evidence to substantiate your case. If the judge requests a medical expert or vocational expert for your trial your disability lawyer can prepare to thoroughly cross-examine them and make sure that any evidence the experts present can be properly challenged.
- Disability lawyer - why won't they appeal my case? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)