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At a Social Security Disability (“SSD”) hearing, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) can ask a medical expert, vocational expert (“VE”), both, or neither to testify. In some circumstances, it may be advisable for a claimant to retain their own VE.
I represent a 37 year old former case manager for the State Court system with migraines, neck and back problems, and mental impairments, whose SSD application was approved today, largely because she had retained a VE. I had advised the claimant to retain a VE for two reasons. First, many ALJs find it difficult to account for migraines. Second, the claimant also filed a NYSLERS claim, and that entity does not use VEs when evaluating claims.
There are relatively few VEs locally who are familiar with the SSD process, and many of them also work for Social Security Administration (“SSA”), which was true for the VE that the claimant retained. After bringing the VE’s report to the attention of one of the staff attorneys at the SSA hearing office, he advised me that he would recommend an OTR [9/20/17], which the ALJ approved today.
The ALJ’s decision gave great weight to the opinions of the claimant’s orthopedist and neurologist, who had provided diagnostic tests and treatment records to support their opinions. However, that is not unusual, yet very few cases now get approved OTR. The ALJ’s decision also gave great weight to the VE’s opinion that there was no work that the claimant could perform full time. That distinction indicates that it was the reason why the ALJ found an OTR was justified.Previous Next
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