I-2-5-56.Obtaining Vocational Expert Opinion After the Hearing

Last Update: 8/29/14 (Transmittal I-2-118)

An administrative law judge (ALJ) may determine vocational expert (VE) evidence is needed during or after a hearing. For example:

  • The claimant may establish the existence of another severe impairment that requires VE testimony to evaluate step 5 of the sequential evaluation process.

  • Evidence submitted after the hearing indicates that the claimant's functional limitations differ from the hypothetical questions presented to the VE at the hearing.

When a VE opinion is needed after the hearing has been held, the ALJ will determine whether the opinion will be obtained in a supplemental hearing or in written interrogatories. In deciding how to obtain the opinion, the ALJ must carefully balance administrative efficiency with the claimant's rights with respect to post-hearing evidence. See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law manual I-2-5-30. The ALJ may consider:

  • Whether and when a VE would be available to testify at a supplemental hearing;

  • The feasibility of scheduling a hearing at a remote hearing site; and

  • The potential for delays if a supplemental hearing is scheduled.

If the ALJ determines a supplemental hearing is needed, the ALJ will direct the expert to appear by video teleconferencing (VTC) or telephone when:

  • VTC or telephone equipment is available;

  • Use of VTC or telephone equipment would be more efficient than conducting an examination of a witness in person; and

  • There is no other reason VTC or telephone should not be used.

NOTE:

Regardless of the method used to obtain opinion evidence, or whether the claimant is represented, the ALJ must question the VE in lay terms and elicit responses in terms that the claimant can understand (to the extent possible).