I-2-5-50.When to Obtain Vocational Expert Opinion

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

A. When an ALJ May Need to Obtain VE Opinion

An ALJ may need to obtain a VE's opinion, either in testimony at a hearing, in person, by telephone, by video teleconference or in written responses to interrogatories, when:

  1. the ALJ is determining whether the claimant's impairment(s) prevents the performance of past relevant work; or

  2. the ALJ is determining whether the claimant's impairment(s) prevents the performance of any other work and he or she cannot decide the case under any of the tables in Appendix 2, Subpart P of Regulations No. 4, because:

    • the claimant's residual functional capacity falls between two exertional levels; e.g., the claimant may be able to perform more than the full range of sedentary work, but less than the full range of light work;

    • the claimant has solely nonexertional limitations; or

    • the claimant has a combination of exertional and nonexertional limitations; e.g., back impairments with limited sitting or standing tolerance.

B. When the ALJ Must Obtain VE Opinion

The ALJ must obtain a VE's opinion, either in testimony at a hearing in person, by telephone, by videoconference or in responses to written interrogatories, when directed by the Appeals Council or a court.