Last week we introduced Social Security rulings as another source of information for the Social Security Administration vocational expert in training…or for the professional who’s looking to expand their knowledge in this profession. Today we’re actually going to talk about the Social Security ruling as it pertains to the vocational expert.
The applicable ruling here is Social Security ruling 00-4P … what this governs is the use of you – the SSA vocational expert – and what you provide as vocational specialist evidence being a source of reliable occupational information for disability decisions to be rendered by an administrative law judge. This ruling as a whole is a clarification of standards for you to use as the vocational expert and how you will provide evidence at the hearing in front of the administrative law judges, as well as other specialists who provide evidence for disability determination services.
This ruling also references reliable sources of occupational information for evaluation of disability claims. The main focus of the ruling is that before their adjudicators (in this case is normally that administrative law judge) cannot rely on your evidence alone. Your testimony still must accompany an explanation for any conflict between what you provide in occupational evidence and the existing information in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. That is their overall standard for job evidence.
The great thing about Social Security rulings is that they also provide overall pertinent citation of authority. So, if you want to understand where the actual source regulation in the code of federal regulation comes from, this ruling actually points you in the right direction.
As you continue down the ruling, you’re going to get to understand policy interpretations such as in step four and step five of the disability determination process and how the SSA relies on that beauty as a primary source of information in making disability determinations.
The key issue that is introduced here is that the occupational evidence provided by you should generally be consistent with information supplied by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. However, if there are unresolved conflicts between the DOT and what you say, then it goes to an adjudication that looks for an overall explanation for the conflict. This means that what you provide using your “professional experience” as a vocational expert still needs to specify appropriate sources of information and how you rely on that to give your impartial opinion to the administrative law judge.
This SSR gives reasonable explanations as well as some evidence that conflicts with policy overall… such as how the ruling gets into exertional skill levels and the biggie… transferability of skills.
Closing out SSR 00-4 P, you’re going to see cross references down at the bottom – always a great source of information in every single SSR. This cross reference at the very bottom of the page which will link you into every other SSR that is pertinent to the topic at hand.
Hopefully this topic was a useful introduction to you and will continue to grow in its usefulness during your time as a Social Security Administration vocational expert. Thank you for coming today and we’ll see you next week!