Matt Shupe, an attorney at Balin Law, attended a NOSSCR conference to learn about Social Security disability changes. He discusses a new regulation for judges. The new regulation requires judges to take judicial notice and accept all forms of reliable job and data sources by the government. Learn how this change can affect disability claimants.
Hi, this is attorney Matt Shupe from Balin Law. I’m here to talk about some of the things I learned at the NOSSCR 40th anniversary conference in New Orleans. NOSSCR stands for the National Organization for Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. It’s basically a professional union for lawyers that do this sort of disability work across the country.
Judges must take judicial notice of all forms of reliable job data
Probably my biggest takeaway from NOSSCR, if I had to pick one, was I learned about a new regulation that requires judges to take judicial notice of all forms of reliable job data published by the federal government. This sounds really confusing, but this is what it looks like in practice for us. Towards the end of a disability hearing, a vocational expert comes and testifies about whether or not you can do any of the work you’ve done in the past, and whether or not there are any other jobs out there that you can do on a full-time basis.
How did judges look at job sources before?
Traditionally, judges would use two sources of information, the dictionary of occupational titles and the selected characteristics of occupations. This regulation basically says that some of the newer and more up-to-date studies that have been done by the government, such as O*NET and Occu Collect, are as reliable sources of information.
What’s the biggest advantage to disability claimants in how judges accept job sources now?
Basically, this change gives new information to use in the hearing that a disability judge has to accept as gospel. So if I don’t like the testimony I get from the vocational expert based on the dictionary of occupational titles, I have options. I could say, “Well, that was last updated in ’91, what about this over here? Would you consider this a reliable source of information?” If yes, maybe I can get some better testimony. Having better testimony can turn a close case that was going to be a loss into a win.
Does this change improve chances of being eligible for disability benefits?
I’ve already experimented with this new change and the judge and the vocational expert were surprised by it and sometimes that’s a good thing, bringing a fresh angle to a case and keeping them on their toes. But the one time I’ve tried it since the conference, it worked out and it took what could have been a loss to a win. So I’m pretty pleased with it and really glad I picked that tidbit up at NOSSCR.
Have questions about this new change and how judges accept job sources and data? Contact us so we can help. Additionally, we offer free consultations if you’re considering filing or appealing a disability claim.