So you’re interested in this fancy term you’re hearing…the SSAVE! But what is it? What does it take to become one? Who’s in charge? What is the education process? How does one become a really good Social Security Vocational Expert (SSAVE)?
This series will attempt to take this term and demystify it…just like an individual knows how to go to school for a career, we’ll outline answers to all of the questions above…and a few you haven’t contemplated!
An SSAVE – in the manner we’re examining it – is a Vocational Expert (VE) for the Social Security Administration (SSA). These individuals perform the role of impartial witness for the SSA. Performance of this role occurs through multiple methods. These actions include in the courtroom (live or virtual) during an appeal hearing, remand study contribution (appeal decisions that require reinterpretation at a lower level), or through interrogatories (essentially a written testimony).
The accomplishment of impartial witness duties by an SSAVE is, as seen above, live and/or virtual. Social Security actually led the federal government in this realm, as the vast majority of claimant cases had each SSAVE conducting testimony telephonically. The COVID crisis obviously changed that to 100%, but the option for live hearings still was and will again become a necessity for Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) to conduct hearings in the future. The network established to roll in the SSAVE contribution, however, still provides a stable remote option for those interested in this line of work.
Entering this profession isn’t easy, however. Becoming an SSAVE is NOT an entry-level position. The strict requirements associated with the 2020 SSA Blanket Purchase Agreement ensure this. The items as listed include a Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation or closely related field, certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) or American Board of Vocational Experts Diplomat or Fellow (ABVE/D or ABVE/F), and five or more years of direct experience working with people with disabilities.
Does this sound like you? Getting to the role of SSAVE may not be easy, but is definitely rewarding for the individual filling the role – both for the part they play in the SSA system and for learning and applying the next level in a Vocational Rehabilitation career. As you’ll see next, the need for this professional won’t go away, as claimant disability cases remain on the rise and the professionals performing the role are enduring change as well.