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Role of the Vocational Expert

The VE is a neutral witness, and usually they are knowledgeable, fair, and equitable. They will answer questions about vocational issues that are posed by the Hearing Officer and by your attorney.

Five Things Railroad Retirement Disability Hearings Consider:

All of these limitations are vocational considerations that will be evaluated by the Vocational Expert at the hearing. 

  • Medical condition

  • Age, education and work history

  • Intangibles, such as your inability to concentrate and focus during the work day

  • Inability to adapt to new work places, industries and job requirements

  • Whether your medical condition will cause you to miss too much work to retain a job

During The Hearing

VE testimony is often the most misunderstood aspect of the hearing. This is because the VE will often identify jobs that a person can do. But, you must remember that the jobs in the answer are based upon the assumptions given to the VE. So, if the Hearing Officer asks the VE to assume that a person can leap tall buildings with a single bound, like Superman, and whether that person could perform work, the answer is very likely going to be yes.

But, even if a person can leap tall buildings with a single bound, they may still be disabled if they have a psychological disability, such as PTSD, or anxiety and depression. Although that person may be able to physically perform a job, they may not be able to work because they cannot be around people, or they get angry easily and get in fights with supervisors and co-workers. These are non-exertional limitations that usually restrict or eliminate the ability to perform any kind of job.

We don’t know in advance what the VE testimony will be, so you have to be prepared to cross-examine the VE on the fly, and know what kinds of questions to ask. Many representatives do not ask the VE any questions at all – and so they lose important and often helpful testimony.

While the hearing is supposed to be non-adversarial, meaning that there is not a lawyer on the other side representing the government, you still have to ask questions that will help your case. The Hearing Officer may not ask the needed questions for you. So, unless you are properly prepared to cross-examine the vocational expert, it’s possible that the only vocational evidence in the record will be against you.

Let our experienced attorneys guide you throughout the process. Visit our Contact Page or email us at to get in touch. 

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