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Why didn't Social Security Disability ODAR Judge ask questions of Vocational Expert?

Valdosta, GA |

I had my ODAR hearing 6 weeks ago and Judge only asked VE to classify level of exertion of previous work which was classified as low exertion. My attorney said afterward both he and VE thought that was good. My attorney has been unreachable and I am extremely anxious to learn anything I can. The judge did note that my Cardiologist expected me to miss at least 1 day of work per week. In fact 3 different types of doctors expect me to miss this for 3 different reasons. Any guess as to what might happen or how I might learn outcome would be greatly appreaciated. Thank You.

I'm not "bugging" my Attorney or his staff - I haven't tried to reach him as he noted he's out of country for some time. We had less than 5 minutes interaction prior to ODAR appointment so my anxiety is internal which may be why I've had 7 heart surgeries :). Just looking for any help in waiting out these last months in a long process. Thank You so much Gentlemen!!!! This is such a tough position. After 30 years of a wonderful career things can crumble quickly and SSDI is a tough maze. I truly appreciate this service and your quick responses.

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Best answer

    Either the ALJ is going to award a fully favorable decision as you were found disabled before Steps 4 and 5 of the 5-Step analysis. Or the ALJ is going to issue an UNF decision because you were found not disabled before Steps 4 and 5 of the 5-Step analysis. Or the ALJ is going to dismiss your claim for some technical reason without even commencing the 5-Step analysis.

    If I were a betting individual I would bet on the former rather than the latter or middling options.

    Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.

  2. This is really something you need to speak with your own attorney about. I sympathize with you about him being hard to reach; I'm sure some of my own clients would say the same about me sometimes.

    I can think of reasons why your attorney might think it good or bad. But I don't know your facts, and I don't think it's wise to speculate about why your attorney thought something. After all, he was there, and he knows your case. If he thought the judge's action was good, he's more likely to be right than someone who wasn't there and doesn't know your case. So try to relax as much as you can, try not to bug your attorney or his staff with too many phone calls (believe me, they'll appreciate it!), and don't call the hearings office unless your attorney tells you to. In our area it typically takes between 1 and 3 months to get the decision once the record has been closed, so if your area is similar, you're right in the middle of that period. Good luck!

  3. From the information that you have provided, it is most likely a good sign that the judge did not ask further questions of the VE. Of course, you won't know for sure until the written decision is issued. If the judge determines that you are unable to return to your past relevant work, there is no evidence in the record to show that thee is other suitable work which you could perform in the national and regional economies. Had the VE been asked specifically, I am almost certain that he would have offered the opinion that an expectation of missed work of three to four or more days per month due to impairments would preclude competitive employment. Your attorney was there for the hearing and would have a better feel for how the hearing went. You can't always tell exactly how a judge will ultimately rule, but I would not get disheartened based upon what you've described.

  4. I agree with attorney Wayson (who is always on time and on target with his responses) and the other attorneys who have responded here that you should not read too much into whether or not the ALJ asked extensive questions of the vocational expert at hearing. As others have stated here, though, if the ALJ asks less questions or if the ALJ fails to consider the full scope of vocational testimony at hearing, I usually read that to mean that they are either inclined to rule favorably, or that I am in a stronger position to file an appeal if they do not. This is particularly the case where I ask multiple questions of the vocational expert to follow up any questions asked by the ALJ in order to create as many scenarios as possible under which a favorable ruling can be made, because Federal Courts have consistently held that it is reversible error for an ALJ either to not consider the full scope of vocational testimony at hearing, or for the ALJ to fail to address questions asked by claimant's counsel at hearing, and there is also specific policy guidance from SSA for ALJ's that allows them not to call a vocational expert in situations where there is no need to do so. Also, medical testimony that you will be likely to miss 3 or more days per month due to your impairments is generally a favorable factor in terms of limiting the number of potential full time jobs available. At this point, my only recommendation would be to have faith in the evidence and testimony you presented at hearing, and have faith in your attorney that they full developed the record, and have faith as you "hurry up and wait" for a decision. I wish you the best with your claim, and I hope that you will receive a favorable result in the near future.

    Provision of information in response to this question does not create an attorney-client relationship and the questioner is encouraged to seek and retain legal counsel in order to discuss their question(s) further and directly with legal counsel. Respondent is licensed to practice law in Georgia and Tennessee for non-Federal matters with a primary focus on personal injury and workers' compensation, and is also authorized by the Social Security Administration to represent claimants nationwide in Social Security Disability claims. The questioner is advised that some responses on this site are provided by attorneys who are not licensed in the respective jurisdiction of the questioner, and any advice from attorneys on this site concerning state-specific areas such as workers' compensation by attorneys who are not licensed in the applicable and appropriate jurisdiction should be viewed as for general educational purposes and should generally be given lesser weight than responses by attorneys licensed in the governing jurisdiction. Response to this question further assumes that the questioner is not currently represented by counsel, and if this is not the case, then it is recommended that any further questions or concerns be directed to their current legal counsel.

  5. Brian Wayson is absolutely correct. In addition generally the reason is that there will be a favorable. Especially true if any questions to you indicated a favorable.

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