I-2-5-40.Obtaining Medical Expert Opinion After the Hearing

Last Update: 9/28/05 (Transmittal I-2-68)

A. Identifying the Need for ME Opinion After the Hearing

Although these situations occur relatively infrequently, the ALJ may identify the need for ME evidence during a hearing at which there is no ME present or after the hearing; for example, when evidence submitted during or after the hearing indicates that the claimant may have an impairment that medically equals a listing.

B. Obtaining ME Opinion After the Hearing

When an ALJ decides to obtain evidence from an ME after the hearing, the ALJ must determine the most appropriate method to obtain this evidence consistent with the claimant's rights with respect to posthearing evidence. (See I-2-7, Posthearing Actions.) Live testimony in person, via videoconference or telephone conference with opportunity to orally question the ME is the preferred method for obtaining ME opinion, but written interrogatories may be used. (See I-2-5-30, Medical or Vocational Expert Opinion — General.)


Regardless of the method used, or whether the claimant is represented, the ALJ must to the extent possible question the ME in lay terms and, to the extent possible, elicit responses in terms that the claimant can understand.

C. Determining the Most Appropriate Method to Obtain ME Opinion After the Hearing

Some of the factors that the ALJ must weigh in determining whether it would be more appropriate to obtain ME opinion in testimony at a supplemental hearing, or in responses to written interrogatories, are:

  • whether and when an ME is available to testify in person, by videoconference or telephone conference,

  • the feasibility of scheduling a hearing at a remote hearing site and the availability of an ME, and

  • the potential for delays if the ALJ schedules a supplemental hearing.