what are your chances of winning a case at a hearing when there is no voc rehab guy or medical specialist to assist the alj in a decision.
My response: Lamont, I think that yes you can win if the judge does not use a VE or an ME. Here is how I would analyze:
First, what is the custom in your hearing office? In Atlanta, where I practice, all but one or two judges regularly use vocational expert witnesses. There are a couple of judges who almost never use them. If a judge who always uses a VE hears a case without VE testimony, it most likely means that the issue is fairly clear cut one way or the other.
In the Atlanta hearing offices, judges rarely use medical experts – in my practice I would estimate that ME’s appear about 15% of the time. The absence of an ME would be of less concern to me here in Atlanta.
I think you need to find out whether the absence of a VE or ME is unusual in your jurisdiction. What does your lawyer say?
I also think that an unfavorable decision issued without the testimony of a VE and/or ME should be looked at carefully by an appellate specialist. Since disability hinges on vocational capacity I am of the opinion that an unfavorable decision issued without VE testimony may give you an appeal angle.
Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 29 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.
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