Can a Vocational Assessment Help My Long Term Disability Claim?

Disability Wiki.

A vocational assessment can provide a detailed, expert opinion that explains why your disability prevents you from working.

A vocational expert can achieve this by:  (1) providing an accurate and comprehensive description of your job responsibilities; (2) highlighting the skills and abilities necessary to perform your job successfully; (3) clearly explaining your inability to meet particular work demands; and (4) providing an expert conclusion as to whether you can perform your own occupation or any other occupation.

Providing an accurate and comprehensive description of your job responsibilities

The vocational expert will review your resume and a job description (provided by your employer) to begin analyzing your job title, responsibilities, education, and work background.  Inevitably, job responsibilities extend beyond those listed in resumes and job descriptions.  For this reason, the vocational expert will personally interview you to get a better sense of how you actually performed your job.  The vocational expert may also want to review your medical records and/or medical history to better understand your disabling condition and symptoms.

After the vocational expert has gathered sufficient information to understand your job, he or she will compile a comprehensive list of your job responsibilities and a thorough description as to how you actually performed your work.  The expert will also distinguish your primary responsibilities from your ancillary responsibilities.  The vocational expert’s assessment of your job may include more responsibilities than you even realized you had.

The vocational expert’s description will provide the insurance company with far more information than could be gleaned from your resume and job description alone.  By providing more information through a vocational expert, you will lessen the risk that the insurance company will misunderstand, miscategorize, or inaccurately summarize your job.

Highlighting the skills and abilities necessary to perform your job

The vocational expert will use his or her expertise to determine the specific skills and abilities necessary to perform your job successfully.  The expert will research a number of vocational resources and databases, in addition to using his or her experience, to explain and support the vocational assessment.  This will ensure that the insurance company finds the analysis to be reliable.

Some of the skills and abilities that the vocational expert may consider could include:

    • The ability to concentrate and/or pay attention for extended periods of time
    • The ability to efficiently and quickly process and/or analyze written material
    • Superior communication skills
    • Excellent mathematical skills
    • High stress tolerance
    • The ability to work long hours and/or be on call
    • The ability to sit, stand, and/or walk for extended periods of time
    • Capability to travel for business
    • The ability to drive
    • Strong analytical skills
    • The ability to type quickly and accurately for extended periods of time
    • Strong leadership skills
    • Supervision and managerial skills
    • The ability to focus on a computer monitor or tablet screen for prolonged periods of time
    • The ability to hear well and/or follow conversations in a work environment
    • Multitasking skills
    • The ability to keep your neck in static position for a prolonged period of time
    • Strong people skills
    • The ability to lift certain amounts of weight
    • The ability to meet deadlines
    • Excellent problem-solving skills
    • The ability to deal with routine changes in the work setting
    • The ability to write in a coherent manner
    • Public speaking skills
    • The ability to bend, stoop, and climb stairs
    • The ability to remember detailed instructions

Clearly explaining your inability to meet particular work demands

After identifying the particular skills and abilities necessary to perform your job, the vocational expert can explain why you are unable to meet such demands.

For example, an insurance company may claim that a doctor only performs fine manipulations with his/her hands on an occasional basis to type or use medical instruments.  Thus, the insurance company might conclude that a doctor with mild arthritis in his/her hands is not disabled.

But, a vocational expert may clarify that some doctors, such as a cardiac surgeon, must perform fine manipulations during long, complex surgical procedures -- often lasting many hours.  Therefore, the vocational expert might explain that a cardiac surgeon with mild arthritis in her hands is disabled.


Providing an expert conclusion as to whether you can perform your own occupation or any other occupation

Lastly, the vocational expert will analyze how your disability impacts your ability to perform the skills and responsibilities of your job.  The expert will do this by identifying which job requirements you can no longer accomplish and clearly articulate why.

Notably, most insurance policies only require that you cannot meet all of the requirements of your job.  Therefore, if the vocational expert can identify just one key work responsibility that you cannot perform, then the insurance company will likely grant your claim.

The vocational expert’s conclusions and final analysis will be detailed, objective, personalized, and well-supported by data.  Because of this, the report will provide supportive evidence that will be difficult to ignore.

How can a long term disability attorney help?

An experienced long term disability attorney can help to identify when a vocational assessment may be necessary.  The attorneys at Riemer Hess are well versed in complex vocational issues and will be able anticipate when the insurance company will require additional vocational proof.  The attorneys at Riemer Hess will also review the vocational report for any inconsistencies or inaccuracies and take any necessary remedial measures.  Contact an experienced attorney at Riemer Hess today to discuss whether a vocational assessment may be helpful for your long term disability claim.

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