The SSA employs Vocational Experts for a very good reason…research. At the end of the day the SSAVE is paid for this research. Conducting data analysis based on claimant information (work history) and applying hypothetical limitations to arrive at a residual functional capacity (RFC) is the name of the game…so what is the best research method?
It depends..on the experience and capability of the SSAVE. Stroud Academy recognizes this as both a limitation and a strength and develops courseware to assist in building individual critical reasoning ability to conduct and apply research in various capacities. The method employed to conduct the research is immaterial…to a point. The data is the key! Our last post referenced the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the DOT, software, etc….all of which present data in varying ways. As such, the answer one SSAVE arrives at during a hypothetical situation will be different than the next.
This is due to NO COMMON BASELINE.
Without this baseline, the answers will always differ. Add to this the requirement for Vocational Rehabilitation specialist vs Vocational Employment specialists and you see contributing factors…
Regardless of the issues, the SSAVE and the SSA still work together to accomplish the mission – providing information to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to render a decision in representation of the SSA. This occurs through oversight of the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO). Each OHO or Central Scheduling Unit (CSU) schedules SSAVEs per the docket requirements of the ALJs at each OHO. Once these dockets are complete, the OHO also has financial experts who work BPA holders on the payment side of the equation.
This shows you that the OHO facilitates the action, but the ALJ still remains at the center of the sphere – really performing as the conductor of the courtroom orchestra. They seamlessly integrate the Claimants, Lawyers, Disability Advocates, SSAVEs, and so on…with the sole aim to render a decision on behalf of the SSA. This decision is significant for the claimant – either in a disability award or in the case of a rejection, in the impact on what that individual must do next.
As part of this orchestra, the SSAVE must get their part right…meaning they need source information first and foremost.