“There’s often a huge difference between a job’s title and how it is actually performed,” notes Loudoun County disability lawyer Doug Landau.
Sometimes a Manager or Supervisor is ‘hands on,’ lifting heavy equipment and pitching in to complete manual labor projects. In these instances, the job title does not accurately reflect the physical requirements of the job.
Other times, the job title may indicate significant skill sets, but as ‘actually performed by the claimant,’ falls far short of what one would expect from reading the Dictionary of Occupational Titles description of the same position. If the Federal Government’s ‘Vocational Expert’ relies just upon the job title of the disabled claimant, an unjust decision will be reached.
In a recent case the Federal Court reversed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision because the ALJ did not ascertain what exact skills the claimant had learned on his job. As a result, the government’s Vocational Expert and the ALJ made assumptions based only on the job titles of the jobs held by the claimant.
The Social Security trial judge failed to obtain testimony from the claimant about his job duties or the skill she actually acquired. The court noted: job titles, in themselves, are not determinative of skill level. Because the Vocational Expert’s description of acquired skills relied on the Occupational Titles and was not based on the claimant’s actual acquired skills, it did not constitute substantial evidence to support a finding that the claimant possessed these skills.
Therefore the Federal Court found in favor of the disabled claimant and awarded Social Security benefits.