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

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

A. Identifying the Need for VE Opinion After the Hearing

Although these situations occur relatively infrequently, the ALJ may identify the need for VE evidence during or after the hearing. For example:

  • The claimant may submit evidence during or after the hearing which establishes the existence of another severe impairment which raises issues that require VE testimony for a determination at step 5 of the sequential evaluation process.

  • Evidence submitted after the hearing indicates that the claimant's functional limitations differ from those covered in the hypothetical questions to which the VE responded at the hearing.

B. Obtaining VE Opinion After the Hearing

When an ALJ decides to obtain evidence from a VE after the initial 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, by video teleconference, or telephone conference with opportunity to question the VE is the preferred method for obtaining VE 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 question the VE in lay terms and, to the extent possible, elicit responses in terms which the claimant can understand.

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

Some of the factors that the ALJ must weigh in determining whether it is more appropriate to obtain the evidence by requesting a VE to appear and testify at a supplemental hearing or answer written interrogatories are:

  • whether and when a VE is available to testify in person, by telephone, or by video teleconference;

  • the feasibility of scheduling a hearing at a remote hearing site and the availability of a VE; and

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