Welcome to the next installment of the Stroud Academy Social Security Administration Vocational Expert (SSAVE) Series. Our topic this week is the importance of the SSAVE’s testimony – and to be clear, we’re talking about the role the SSAVE plays as an impartial witness for the Social Security Administration.
Last week we introduced the SSAVE Handbook from the Social Security Administration. We followed up by listing any required training to become a vocational expert for the SSA. Yet, we didn’t answer the why behind becoming an SSAVE in the first place! So you may be wondering to yourself … what is the actual importance of an SSAVE for the Social Security Administration?
Up Front – it’s one word…impartiality!!!
The importance of an individual providing job data from verified source surveys is without dispute. However, the individuals who are providing that data, the vocational experts themselves, don’t get there without gaining credibility along the way. You can see this credibility in the actual requirements that are levied upon prospective vocational experts by the Social Security Administration.
These requirements include gaining knowledge throughout their training and career. First, each SSAVE mave have or earn a Master’s degree in an area related to vocational rehabilitation. Next each SSAVE must gain and retain certification by the Commission on Rehabilition Certification (CRCC) or the American Board of Vocational Experts (ABVE) as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) or an ABVE/Diplomate or /Fellow. The final piece for these individuals is garnering five years of direct experience through working with persons with disabilities.
When you combine the education and training resulting in a credible witness that is impartial throughout the entire process, you can start to see that the SSA vocational expert becomes worth their weight in gold. Impartiality is even more important in that section of the process where the vocational expert is called upon to testify in an appeals hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) present!
This is due to the requirement for that SSAVE to exercise critical thought in response to hypothetical and transferable skills situations presented by the ALJ.
But how does one get to this stage? Ready to exercise critical thoughts. Ready to confidently present data or professional opinion that will markedly affect the life of the claimant – regardless of the outcome of the hearing.
Obviously the educational and certification hurdles are one step…definitely required of the individual to complete. The same goes for direct experience along the way…growing the background and thinking capacities of the future SSAVE.
Yet – as seen in our last video and article – how do they learn the overall expectations of critical thought in the testimony? That’s where something like the VELaunchpad training system comes in. With an overall training system focused on the disability and appeals process, a prospective SSAVE can learn how to shift their thinking to support this new role. Without this education, one needs to not only know and understand the SSAVE handbook, but they also must research and have a clear understanding of the Selected Characteristics of Occupations and related regulations such as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles to completely understand what that ALJ is looking for… when they are looking for it, and most importantly – why!
See you next week!!!
Let’s start learning together!!!