I-2-5-57.Obtaining Vocational Expert Opinion Through Interrogatories

Last Update: 11/3/10 (Transmittal I-2-79)

A. General

Live testimony in person, by telephone, or by video teleconference with opportunity to question the Vocational Expert (VE) is the preferred method for obtaining VE opinion, but written interrogatories may be used. Written interrogatories are often used when the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) receives posthearing evidence, but can be used at other points in the hearing process. The claimant or representative may ask the ALJ to obtain interrogatories, or the ALJ may decide to use them on his or her own initiative.

NOTE:

Attorney Adjudicators (AA) and hearing office (HO) staff (with the authority to issue interrogatories in cases not yet assigned to an ALJ under the direction of the Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge (HOCALJ)) may also use written interrogatories on their own initiative. (See Chief Judge Bulletin 08-03. Screening Cases That May Meet the Disability Requirements Through the Use of Pre-hearing Interrogatories.)

B. Preparing Interrogatories

When preparing interrogatories, the ALJ must:

  • Phrase each question in a way that will not suggest any specific conclusion, but will elicit a clear and complete response that can ultimately be expressed (to the extent possible) in lay terms (See I-2-5-94, Sample-Interrogatories to Vocational Expert.); and

  • Leave sufficient space between the questions for the answers.

C. Sending Interrogatories to the VE

1. Initial Transmission of Interrogatories to the VE

The ALJ will send the interrogatories to the VE along with the following:

  1. A letter explaining the request and the requested method of response. (See I-2-5-95 Sample-Letter to Expert Witness-Written Interrogatories.)

    • Include all identifying information in the letter.

    • Request a response within 10 days.

    • Mark one copy of the letter as an exhibit and place it in the CF.

    • Place a copy of the letter in the HO file.

  2. For a Certified Electronic Case, create a CD of the exhibit list and send it with the interrogatory.

  3. For a paper case, send a copy of the exhibit list; Open DGS; click on the “Exhibit Menu” from the tool bar; select “Exhibit Dir”. Enter the SSN to find the Exhibit List being sent; and

    • Photocopies of the pertinent evidence, arranged in chronological order.

    • A copy of the VE's professional qualifications for verification.

    NOTE:

    Do not include the professional qualifications of any other sources.

  4. A transcript or summary of any pertinent testimony provided in an earlier hearing.

  5. A statement of the issues in the case.

  6. A Contractor's Invoice generated in WebBass for signature by the VE. (To access the contractor invoice, HA-590, in DGS, go to DGS and click on the “Contractor's Invoice” tab.)

    NOTE:

    If the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) does not have a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) with the VE, provide any pertinent VE orientation materials available, and use Optional Form 347 (Order for Supplies or Services) to obtain payment.

  7. The name and telephone number of an HO contact person.

  8. A self-addressed, postage paid envelope large enough for the VE to return all enclosures.

    NOTE:

    After the VE responds to the initial transmission of interrogatories, a copy of the response will be sent to the claimant and representative and will be included in the record as an Exhibit. The claimant and representative may request that the ALJ allow additional interrogatories be submitted to the VE or that a supplemental hearing be held to question the VE if the answers to the interrogatories are unfavorable to the claimant.

2. Subsequent Transmission of Interrogatories to a VE

When an ALJ receives new evidence after a VE has provided testimony or responded to interrogatories, and decides to forward the new evidence to the VE for review with interrogatories to determine if it affects the prior testimony or response, the ALJ must:

  1. Send the interrogatories to the VE with:

    • A letter explaining the request and the requested method of response (See I-2-5-96 Sample-Transmittal Letter to Expert Witness — Evidence Received After Interrogatories. Include all identifying information in the letter and request a response within 10 days.);

    • A photocopy of the new evidence;

    • Copies of pertinent evidentiary documents the VE previously reviewed if not maintained by the VE at the request of the ALJ; and

    • The name and telephone number of an HO contact.

  2. Distribute the letter as follows:

    • Send the original to the VE;

    • Mark one copy of the letter as an exhibit and place it in the CF; and

    • Place a copy in the HO file.

  3. Diary the case for the requested response date and make the appropriate follow-up contacts.

NOTE:

After the VE responds to the subsequent transmission of interrogatories, a copy of the response will be sent to the claimant and representative and will be included in the record as an Exhibit. The claimant and representative may request that the ALJ allow additional interrogatories be submitted to the VE or that a supplemental hearing be held to question the VE if the answers to the interrogatories are unfavorable to the claimant.