During a Disability hearing, the burden is on you (and/or your attorney) to prove that you can not perform your past work. Once you have done this, the burden of proof shifts to SSA to show that there are still jobs you can do. Often times, a Judge will request that a Vocational Expert (VE) be present at the hearing to assist them with this step. The VE may use several different sources to testify whether or not there are jobs that you can do with a variety of restrictions given by the Judge, but the primary one that SSA looks to is the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. (DOT) This is outdated and inaccurate, but it is the controlling source.
Some attorney’s have begun using unusual sources in order to discredit the DOT information. One example would be if the VE testified that with being restricted to simple, one or two step instructions, as given by the Judge, you could still perform the work as of a Housekeeper/Cleaner. DOT defines this as
simple work that requires no more than one or two step instructions, so it fits. However, looking on Youtube for Housekeeping – Bed making shows that there are many more than 2 steps just to change the sheets and make up the beds. There are more videos showing that there are no tasks that can be performed while seated, and that there are many more job requirements that require a higher level of
reasoning that the DOT describes.
How the Judges will react to this is still up in the air, but it does offer attorneys a way to challenge VE testimony that, while following the DOT, does not make sense.
Post written by: Jennifer Scherf