The American Board of Vocational Expert’s Monograph Series
The American Board of Vocational Experts (ABVE) remains the premier professional body focusing upon educational needs and certification requirements for those professionals involved in providing information pertaining to vocational assessments, labor market access, analyses, opinions, and testimonies in civil and administrative proceedings. In the Monograph Series and Journal Abstracts, attempts are made to offer a wide range of presentations to articulate, familiarize, and educate ABVE members, and other interested parties, to the role and practical application of the multidisciplinary nature of vocational assessment in a forensic setting.

Monograph # 1

The Vocational Expert’s Testimony

Ronald A. Peterson, Ph.D.

The first of a series of ABVE monographs, the following articles address the vocational expert’s role as an expert witness in a myriad of settings; i.e., (1) basic roles of the expert witness in the courtroom; (2) expert witnesses and workman’s compensation; (3) vocational experts and the industrial commission; (4) vocational experts and social security; (5) vocational experts in forensic rehabilitation; (6) expert testimony and hedonics.

(1) Rogers, R. [Judge of the U.S. District Court, Topeka, KS] (1991). Role of the Expert Witness. pp. 1-25.

Summary: Presented by Judge Rogers of the U.S. District Court, Topeka, Kansas, this article explores the role of the expert witness from a judicial viewpoint based on legal research and court observations. Offerings include some “do’s” and “don’ts,” and provide guidance from actual court answers that either scored or failed. Included are legal statements of the roles of vocational expert witnesses, (i.e., the Federal Rules of Evidence that are generally followed in all states, procedure at trial, exclusion of witnesses, witness courtroom appearance, tips for the expert witness, and specifics related to vocational testimony).

(2) Halas, A. (1991). The Vocational Expert & Workman’s Compensation. pp. 26-37.

Summary. This article presents a review of the expert witness in the courtroom with a focus on the vocational expert and hints at the rule of such expert testimony in worker’s compensation proceedings. The very nature of workman’s compensation, even without litigation, requires the role of the vocational expert in one of his/her over-lapping guises: vocational expert, rehabilitation counselor ,or labor market analyst. In worker’s compensation litigation, vocational testimony and opinion evidence elaborates on, and translates expert medical opinion, relative to physiological or emotional limitations, attributable to a certain injury, into ‘suitable’ and ‘available’ job positions in an appropriate labor market. The claimants are those individuals who are within the worker’s compensation system, and are previously determined to have permanent medical impairment attributable to industrial injury (injury during job performance). Within the litigious system of worker’s compensation, the finder of fact is not a jury but the Administrative Law Judge. Differentials of approach between the defense and claimant’s position, the role of the vocational expert, and the extent to which labor market testimony is viable are discussed.

(3) Howard, H. W. (1991). Vocational Experts and the Industrial Commission. pp. 38-45.

Summary. Within this article, Administrative law Judge (ALJ) Hal Howard, explores the differences between the use of vocational expert testimony and a vocational expert appearing before a jury or ALJ. In appearances before ALJs, the vocational expert’s testimony is required to be concise and brief. Judge Howard cites important questions that are to be answered by the vocational expert and various laws and principles involved in Arizona’s litigation system but that are most likely applicable in other jurisdictions.

(4) Melkonoff, R. A. (1991). Vocational Experts and Social Security. pp. 46-56.

Summary. The focal point of this article is upon the vocational expert’s role in Social Security hearings as related by an attorney who has experience in Social Security proceedings. A summary of applicable disability standards is presented along with considerations for the vocational expert’s criteria of for determining a claimant’s ability to function in the labor market. Work experience of the claimant is discussed as well as performance of alternative work, exertional limitations, age, education, transferable skills, and inability to acquire work.

(5) Butler, V. J. (1991). The Role of the Vocational Expert in Forensic Rehabilitation: A Guide to Occupational Assessment. pp. 57 – 71.

Summary. Within this article, Dr. Veronica Butler discusses the role of the vocational expert with an emphasis on loss of earning capacity (LOEC) of an injured litigant or other individuals who have retained legal counsel in matters wherein LOEC plays an appropriate role. Although various states may differ in their format or particular data required, the critical variables of LOEC remain and are explored. Medical and/or psychological documentation is considered along with a claimant’s formal educational level of academic level, employment history, and previous pre-injury employment background services. Labor surveys are also discussed.

(6) Magrowski, J. F. (1991). Future Vocational Expert Testimony on Hedonics. pp. 72-80.

Summary. This presentation is a brief introductory article on hedonics, that is a relatively new and controversial area of focus when determining economic loss as a result of disability and injury. Since this publication, numerous explanations and court cases have included this particular concept of economic loss. Instances of the theory and use of hedonics and its use in the judicial system can be found by a thorough search of the literature, case law and additional resources.

Monograph # 2

Professional Issues: Ethics, Methods and Roles of the Vocational Expert

David B. Stein, Ph.D.

The American Board of Vocational Experts offers a second in a series of monographs focusing upon the vocational expert’s ethical roles and the milieu in which ethics and skills are practiced. This issue addresses the (1) ethical methods and roles of the vocational expert; (2) ethical issues for the vocational expert relative to minor head injury; (3) effective use of rehabilitation and economic experts in personal injury; (4) the vocational expert’s role in wage loss analysis; (5) forensic vocational evaluation; and (5) technology, the work force, and people with disabilities within the labor force.

(1) Butler,V. (1994). Some Ethical Considerations for the Vocational Expert. pp. 11-15.

Summary. Some vocational experts might take exception and believe it ludicrous to discuss ethical conduct as it relates to their everyday work activities. As it is, most experts and professionals believe they are functioning with integrity and objectivity; nevertheless, in competitive business, certain aspects of ethical conduct may be “rationalized away.” This particular paper address adherence to the practice of professional ethics and the multidimensional consideration that it holds for vocational experts.

(2) Hartlege, L. C. & Williams, B.L. (1994). Ethical Issues for the Vocational. pp. 11-15.

Summary. This presentation attempts to address issues of minor head injury as a common ethical dilemma faced by the vocational expert in the development of professional opinion when all potentially vocationally limiting factors are not obvious, nor recognized by treating medical personnel. Unlike a disabling head injury that may present as the major diagnostic finding and focus of treatment, a minor head injury may go unnoticed by all involved, including the victim. The vocational expert’s ethical burden focuses on the attempt to consider all aspects that limit the actions of the client, and to incur the burden of determining if, in fact, that mild head injury has occurred limiting one’s employment opportunities. There is always consideration that mild brain injury may be a factor of vocational planning.

(3) Williams, J.M. & Reavy, G. (1994). Effective Use of Rehabilitation and Economic Experts in Personal Injury Cases: An Integrated Approach. pp. 16-27.

Summary. The roles of vocational and rehabilitationist specialists as expert witnesses have become more prevalent in recent years. It is common for some attorneys to fail to recognize the value of the vocational/rehabilitation expert’s testimony or misunderstand the roles and responsibilities of these experts in civil and administrative law proceedings. This situation tends to be particularly true when testimony of an economist on future earning capacity is anticipated in the courtroom. The critical role of the vocational expert is discussed.

(4) Toppino, D. & Boyd, D. (1994). Defining the Vocational Expert’s Role in Wage Loss Analysis. pp. 28-37.

Summary. The successful presentation of injury litigation requires a team approach, using medical vocational, economic and other specialists to outline the relevant issues for the Court. The vocational expert, through his/her singular testimony, can offer the jury the most complete assessment of all the damages sustained, based on the various medical reports while also presenting an easily understandable idea of the implications for the injury. This presentation addresses the role of the forensic vocational expert who is in the best position to tie together important elements for the judge and jury.

(5) Feldbaum, C. L. (1994). Forensic Vocational Evaluation. pp. 38-50.

Summary. The expanding role of the vocational expert in personal injury litigation and various administrative legal proceedings has been palpable. It is necessary for both sides in a dispute to document the quantum aspect of their cases, i.e., the extent of damages sustained. In recent years, many more attorneys are hiring vocational expert witnesses. This discussion addresses key points about forensic vocational testing and offers practical suggestions for the vocational expert . However, there is not the intent to deal comprehensively with such a broad topic, but testing caveats are offered and guidelines suggestions for selecting test batteries. Important factors impacting testing, grade levels, test interpretations, constraints, and presentation of test results is presented.

(6) Mayer, L. (1994). Technology, Work Force Participation and the Disabled: Present Future Status. pp. 51-73.

Summary: The revolution of technology has been noted to be even more powerful than that of the industrial revolution thereby threatening job opportunities. Information technology coupled with robotics and other technological advances affect even the most skilled blue-collar worker. Discussed are participants within the work force and major changes that have occurred within the U.S. labor market over the past two decades. Earnings, affirmative action and discrimination along with the an emphasis of the disabled in the workforce are discussed. The future of work is discussed and the dilemmas and scenarios of worker transformation for the future are presented.

Monograph # 3

Professional Issues: Assessment, Expert Testimony, and Catastrophic Injury

Lindette L. Mayer, Ph.D.

This edition of the Monograph is the third in a series representing the myriad focus of Vocational Experts. Specifically, three articles reflect upon assessment in varied scenarios: (1) assessment of future earning capacity; (2) quantification of wrongful dismissal, and (3) statistical determination of factors influencing post-rehabilitation wage. Two additional articles indicate the diversity of VE issues and focus upon expert testimony in (4) marital dissolution with a gender emphasis, and (5) life care planing for catastrophic injury.

The Third Edition of the ABVE Monograph series exemplifies a different format from previous editions, as it is completed in a quasi-professional journal format.

(1) Cutler, F & Cutler, G. (1995). An Assessment of the Economic, Physical, and Mental Health consequences of Wrongful Dismissal. pp. 1-15.

Summary. Wrongful dismissal from employment is an area of evaluation for those who are asked to assess economic damages due to the consequences of such an action. This article discusses assessment and considerations of techniques in the attempt to quantify losses accrued as the result of wrongful dismissal.

(2) Williams, J.M. & Maze, M. (1995). Determining Future Earning Capacity: Using Computerized Skills, Work Life, and Wage Data Provided in RAVE. pp. 16-25.

Summary. This article discusses the methodology used by the computerized transferable skills and earning capacity assessment software, RAVE, in determining pre-and post-event earning capacity. The factors to be considered in assessing earning capacity and the ways to build a rationale for the vocational expert’s opinions using RAVE are discussed. (Editor’s note: The American Board of Vocational Experts does not endorse the use of any specific commercialized program.)

(3) Mayer, L. L. (1995) Effects of sources of Evaluative Data Upon Wage. pp. 16-41.

Summary: Since many of the previous research efforts in rehabilitation outcome have focused upon the general outcome measures of successful and unsuccessful rehabilitation of subjects engaged in rehabilitation programs, the purpose of this study was to determine specific vocationally significant variables that are predictive of wage outcome for a group of “status 26” rehabilitants (N=132) from the caseload files of the State of Indiana’s Division of Aging, disability and Rehabilitation Services. Two types of variables were included for predictive purposes. Twenty-five vocationally significant variables were identified and investigated. In addition, six descriptive variables inclusive of gender, race, disability type, age and years of pre-and post rehabilitation education were investigated. A stepwise regression model was used in determining those statistical correlations meeting the test of p= <.05 level of significance between the independent variables and the criterion variable of wage.

Findings indicated that among the 25 vocational variables, reasoning, physical strength, job location and atmospheric conditions satisfied the statistical test of significance. Further significant correlations were found to exist with the descriptive variables of gender, age and years of education. Coupled with these findings, descriptive statistics and comparison were presented as part of the study.

(4) Murphy , P. A.. (1995). Vocational Expert Witness Testimony in Divorce: Some Problematic Issues. pp. 42-52.

Summary. This essay discusses the utilization of expert witness testimony in the divorce process. The author cites the legal use of Vocational Expert testimony and raises questions involving the lack of substantive literature regarding women and the role of the value of work. Issues are considered that are relevant in considering the vocational expert’s testimony of female gender issues in the dissolution of marriage.

(5) Williams, J. M. & Burlew, L.D. (1995). Dealing with Catastrophic Injury: A Developmental Perspective on Life Care Planning. pp. 53-59.

Summary. The role of the rehabilitationist in life care planning is discussed with specific focus upon developmental tasks from young adulthood to older adulthood. Specific elements during the process of rebuilding from disability are directed toward pre-occupational self-concept and the emergence of a post-injury self-concept and self acceptance. This is coupled with the necessity for rehablitationists to include self-concept enhancing activities and services as a priority in developing a life care plan.