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High court to hear SSDI arguments

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a case that addresses an important part of the Social Security Disability Insurance hearing process. The issue in the case, which is relevant in Social Security actions in California and across the U.S., is whether a vocational expert's opinion can be relied upon if the expert does not provide the data that led to his or her opinion.

Typically, the Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine whether or not an individual should receive SSDI benefits. During the first three steps, a number of applicants get rejected because they have no severe impairments or are working. However, a number of applicants get approved because they have a condition listed on the SSA's list of impairments. During the fourth step, the SSA determines whether the applicant is able to return to previous work.

If the applicant cannot return to previous work, the SSA moves on to step five and decides whether he or she can do another job. If the applicant cannot perform any job, he or she may then be found to be disabled. In some cases, the SSA has to rely on a vocational expert regarding the applicant's ability or inability to work. The testimony of the vocational expert essentially determines the outcome of the claim in many instances. In the case before the Supreme Court, the appellant argues that vocational experts should be required to disclose the facts that lead to their opinions.

In a case where a person is trying to secure Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, a lawyer might be able to help. An attorney with experience in Social Security cases might put together a claim by gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses.

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