Why Do Insurers Use A Vocational Expert?

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates work around the clock to help injured workers seek benefits and vocational rehabilitation costs. For over 20 years, we have represented employees before the state Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA). Through cross-examination of vocational experts, we fight to prove the full extent of disability and entitlement to benefits for workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

Extent of Disability

Massachusetts law provides workers’ compensation to disabled workers injured on the job. This “no-fault” system replaces wages lost because of work accidents. Eligibility for benefits depends upon the extent of injury and ability to perform other jobs. Under Massachusetts law, benefits and vocational rehabilitation are only available to disabled workers who cannot return to their pre-injury job, and consequently, their pre-injury wage. Insurers call vocational experts (VEs) to testify regarding the extent of disability and potential to obtain employment after a work injury.

Importance of VE Testimony

The job of a VE is to analyze whether injured workers suffer partial or total disability, and how this affects their employment potential. If the injury prevents a return to the worker’s former job, the VE must determine the possibility of obtaining “meaningful employment” or wage replacement based on several factors. These factors are specific to individual workers, and may involve:

  • Education level
  • Hypothetical jobs
  • Transferable skills
  • Local labor market
  • Physical limitations
  • Past work experience
  • Disability classification
  • Special accommodations
  • Documented impairments
  • Available post-injury work
  • Residual functional capacity
  • Exertion level required in past
  • Comparative duties at other jobs
  • Restriction to light/sedentary duty

Insurers use VEs to give their opinion about the worker’s current medical impairments and how they influence available work on the local labor market. VEs often testify that, based on the specific worker’s education level, employment history, and skill set, the injured worker can still perform a past job or meet the demands of other, comparable, jobs.

Challenging VE Opinions

In an adversarial process, insurers would not employ VEs if their testimony lined the pockets of injured workers. As such, skilled legal representation at DIA hearings is crucial to protecting workers’ rights. Cross-examination of VEs is critical to exposing the actual requirements of a particular worker’s job rather than hypothetical skills or minimal standards of other work. VEs may know work “titles,” but not the individual qualifications or daily duties required to perform a specific former job. Clarifying the way distinct workers fulfilled “extra” duties not included in a normal job description is key to classifying the full extent of each disability and entitlement to benefits.

Helping You Fight for the Benefits You Deserve

If your employer’s insurer is using a vocational expert in your hearing or appeal, contact the Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates today. Because benefits should be awarded on a case-by-case basis, we are committed to representing your interests before the administrative law judge. At Kantrovitz & Associates, we believe that VEs should not be used to minimize liability, but to accurately reflect the limitations placed on individual workers like you. For over 20 years, we have fought for workers in Boston, Essex, Norfolk, Middlesex, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Merrimack counties, among others. Call (800) 367-0871 today for a free consultation or contact us online.