Vocational experts (VEs) are rehabilitation professionals who testify in court matters about a person's capacities to perform competitive employment following the onset of injury or illness. Vocational experts inform the court as to how an injury or disease causes changes in a person's occupational potentials and earning capacity.
A rehabilitation professional serving as a VE is generally trained as a counselor or psychologist; skilled in vocational assessment and/or job analysis and placement, and customarily certified by one or more relevant professional associations, such as the American Board of Vocational Experts. Vocational experts are the only rehabilitation professionals who are specifically trained to evaluate an injured person's post injury occupational disability and employability.
Forensic vocational or disability evaluation does not involve a helping relationship between the VE and the injured party. It consists of the VE executing an independent review of pertinent medical information (including an understanding of the injured person's functionality), a clinical interview, preferably vocational testing (ie, aptitudes and interests), and a resultant assessment of the injured person's transferable skills and residual employability.
In formulating an analysis of residual employability, the VE relies on medical documentation about the injured person's impairment(s) and residual functional capacity (RFC), or what the impaired person is able to do physically and/or mentally despite the medically defined impairment. In vocational disability evaluation, the RFC report bridges the gap between the existence of medical impairment and the assessment of occupational disability and residual employability.
Genovese, E., Galper, J. S., & American Medical Association (2009). Guide to the evaluation of functional ability: How to request, interpret, and apply functional capacity evaluations. Chicago, Ill.: American Medical Association.