Definition - What does Vocational Expert mean?
A vocational expert is an expert witness who testifies at Social Security disability appeal hearings, and who has expertise in the areas of vocational rehabilitation and earning capacity.
The vocational expert is seldom called in to disability hearings on the request of an administrative law judge; their main duty lies in identifying what a disabled individual would have earned if the individual hadn't suffered from disability and whether that person has any scope for further employment.
Justipedia explains Vocational Expert
In many cases, applications for disability payments are rejected by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) on the grounds that the individual can still perform work activity. The individual whose application was rejected has a right to appeal the decision. In such hearings, a vocational expert is asked to testify. This person has in-depth knowledge of vocational rehabilitation, lost ability/earnings/time, earning capacity, etc.
The role of the vocational expert in disability hearings is to analyze the residual functioning capacity assessment report prepared by Disability Determination Services (DDS). This report is used to determine whether the individual who applied for disability benefits can secure meaningful employment.