Long-term disability (LTD) coverage is intended to protect you and your family in case you sustain an injury or develop a medical condition that impacts your ability to work and earn an income. There are two equally critical components to determining whether you are entitled to your LTD benefits: 1) the medical proof of your disability; and 2) the vocational proof that your disability impacts your ability to perform your job. One of the best methods for proving your inability to perform your, or other, jobs is through a vocational expert.
What Does a Vocational Expert Do?
A vocational expert analyzes your medical condition and limitations and provides expert testimony about the types and number of jobs you can or cannot perform. In the context of a LTD claim, vocational evidence may be the reason your claim is approved or denied. A vocational expert will review your job history, your job description and the material duties of your job, and assess your transferrable skills (your training, experience, and education) that may allow you to perform a similar or different job.
LTD insurance carriers often hire a vocational expert to provide a written report or testimony as to the number and types of jobs you can perform. This occurs more frequently in LTD claims filed by doctors or other medical professionals because the claim value is so high. If the insurance company has hired an expert to say you can perform a certain array of jobs in order to deny your claim for LTD benefits, don't you want an expert of your own testifying about the jobs you cannot perform to support an approval of your LTD claim? If your insurance company has hired an expert who says you can perform certain jobs and you have no evidence to refute that, this could easily lead to a denial of either your appeal or your lawsuit after the appeal.
Report and Live Testimony
Typically, a vocational expert analyzes your medical records, job history, the material duties of your job, your training, education, and background, and the available job market to prepare a written report about the number and types of jobs you can or cannot perform. While this will be critical evidence to support an appeal of a denial of your benefits, your vocational expert can also be called to testify at a hearing on the appeal, offering additional, and more engaging, evidence to support your claim for benefits.
Vocational experts often provide testimony on the following topics:
- Whether you can perform your “own occupation;”
- Whether your particular set of skills, training, and experience can translate to a different job; and
- The different types of jobs that might be a good fit for you considering your medical condition and limitations.
Testimony will often center on how long you can stand or sit in a day, any lifting, pushing, pulling, crouching, or climbing you can do, any equipment you can or cannot operate, and your ability, or inability, to perform the material duties of your own occupation or another occupation.
Finding the Right Vocational Expert
Finding the right vocational expert and securing this key piece of evidence is also where an experienced LTD attorney can help. Many doctors or other professionals are not aware they need this type of evidence and so they proceed with an appeal of an initial denial of their LTD benefits without it, to their detriment. Our experienced LTD attorneys at Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock, can help you gather and generate the key evidence—medical as well as vocational expert testimony—that will put you in the best position possible to recover your LTD benefits. Why risk going at it alone when we never charge any fee, cost, or obligation to simply review your claim and offer any help or guidance that we can? Contact us.