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Why Do Social Security Judges Call Vocational Expert Witnesses to Testify at Social Security Hearings?

Posted Apr 12 2012 8:43pm

vocational expert In most Social Security disability hearings, judges call on expert witnesses called “vocational experts” to help them evaluate your capacity for working.  As a general rule,  Social Security defines “disability” in terms of a claimant’s ability to perform the tasks of a simple, entry level job, therefore it makes sense that the judge will need to identify the specific activity limitations that arise from your medical and/or psychological problems and he will need a way to determine if these limitations impact your capacity for work.

Judges make this evaluation by posing “hypothetical questions” to the vocational expert witness.  A typical question may sound something like this:

Mr. Vocational Expert, I want you to assume the following about a hypothetical person who is the same age as our claimant, with the same educational background and the same work history.  This person is limited to light work with the following limitations:

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