HARRELL LAW OFFICE
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One part of the process the Social Security Administration uses to decide if a person meets the rules to qualify for disability benefits is to determine the applicant's ability to work. This can mean that the applicant is physically and/or mentally capable to do work that exists "within the national economy" (whether or not the application has had any training, education, or experience in that type of work).
In making a decision about whether one can work, the judge relies upon a "vocational expert" to describe the physical and mental requirements of jobs that exist nationally (not just in the region the claimant lives). The data a vocational expert has traditionally relied upon is a text developed by the Department of Labor called the "Dictionary of Occupational Titles" (DOT), which was most recently updated in 1977. As the Washington Post reports: The current system is leading thousands of disability claims per year to be denied that would otherwise have a good chance of approval, data suggests.” This outdated data does not take into account that many of the jobs listed in the DOT have now become obsolete due to advances in technology, automation, and offshoring. The SSA relying upon information provided by vocational experts often result in claims being improperly denied.
It is important for representative to understand how the limited vocational information impacts their client's claim and to challenge SSA's determinations in their client's best interest.