Completing our series on the experiences of SSAVEs, Stroud is proud to bring you an interview with Joyce Brumbaugh, MS, CRC, who has even more experience as an SSAVE. Let’s see what she has to say about training, preparation, and performing as an SSAVE!
Can you give a brief background of your formal education and experience?
I have a B.S. in business administration, a paralegal certificate, a court reporting certificate, an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Tennessee, a post-graduate certificate in Forensic Vocational Rehabilitation from the University of Florida, as well as am qualified as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. After working as a paralegal for a personal injury attorney for a while and summarizing numerous depositions of vocational experts, I became interested and made that occupation my goal once my children were grown, and I could return to school. After obtaining my M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling, it was important for me to invest further in my goals, which included working as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, a job placement professional, and a career specialist, as my mentor had encouraged me to obtain experience in these areas, particularly job placement.
Even though I work primarily from home, telephonically, as a SSAVE, I still try to remain active in our local disability community, part of which includes sitting on the Board of Directors of our local Center for Independent Living.
How and what was your SSA VE training like?
I was fortunate that I did a post graduate internship for three months providing workman’s comp case management services and was exposed to the DOT, Skilltran, and transferable skills analysis, as well as medical records review. During this time, I also worked on a certificate in Forensic Vocational Rehabilitation through the University of Florida, which was a year-long program, ending in mock testimony and vocational report. We covered various areas of forensic vocational rehabilitation, including SSA, personal injury, marital law, workman’s comp, etc. This course also provided me with knowledge of the DOT that was not readily covered in my master’s program.
Once I came on board with Stroud Vocational Experts, I received additional, specific SSAVE training from Ms. Stroud herself. I feel that this training was extremely helpful to me, because I was provided with more information regarding various SSA requirements, as well as resources, that I had not been exposed to previously.
Were you ready for your first testimony when you combined training and experience?
I feel that I was ready as I could have been. I was extremely nervous (and still am!), because this work requires a professional to think “on their feet,” portray confidence, and be prepared. As in any profession, this is a job that requires experience and practice. I feel and have always felt that I have a tremendous support group with Stroud, with my peers, my mentor (Marilyn Stroud), and our office staff (they are amazing.)
What was your initial experience in testimony like?
It was pretty scary! However, I knew if I had a question, I could text a peer or mentor, and get encouragement and help. I also learned that it’s okay to ask the judge to repeat hypotheticals or other information. In fact, they appreciate that you clarify information that may seem “muddy.” My goal is to do the best job I can do to ensure that the judge has the most accurate vocational information as possible.
What would you change about the overall experience?
I began working with the company a little over two years ago. I don’t think there is anything I would, or could change about my experience. I evolved as Stroud evolved, and it has been very exciting and dynamic.