I-2-1-31.Professional Qualifications of Vocational Sources

Last Update: 6/16/16 (Transmittal I-2-173)

A. Vocational Specialist

The Disability Determination Services uses Vocational Specialist(s) (VS). Detailed information about VSs, including VS qualifications, can be found in Program Operations Manual System DI 25003.

An administrative law judge (ALJ) need not admit a written statement of a VS's professional qualifications into the record.

B. Vocational Expert

1. Qualifying a Vocational Expert

Generally, the Office of Hearings Operations regional office (RO) determines whether a person meets the qualifications to perform the functions of a Vocational Expert (VE). The RO considers overall education and experience in determining whether a person requesting qualification as a VE has expertise and a current knowledge of:

  • Working conditions and physical demands of various occupations;

  • Transferability of skills;

  • Knowledge of the existence and numbers of jobs at all exertional levels in the national economy; and

  • Involvement in or knowledge of placing adult workers, including those with disabilities, into jobs.

Once a person submits appropriate documentation regarding their experience and ability to perform VE job functions, the RO contracting officer representative will review the qualifications and, if the qualifications are met, will enter into a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) with the individual. The contracting officer representative will create a BPA in the Social Security Administration's Streamlined Acquisition System for approval by the Office of Acquisitions and Grants. For more information on BPAs, see Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-5-31. The RO will then add the VE to its roster and a hearing office (HO) may select the VE to provide opinion evidence as described in HALLEX I-2-5-52.

An ALJ may use a VE who is not under a BPA when no VE on any RO roster is available or there are extenuating circumstances that require a one-time purchase of VE services. See HALLEX I-2-5-52. In these limited situations, the ALJ must qualify the VE on the record, using the same criteria used by the RO.


The HO will authorize payment to a VE without a BPA by completing Optional Form (OF)-347, Order of Supplies or Services. The OF-347 is available in fillable form on the SSA Electronic Forms System Form Filler program (E-forms) or via the General Services Administration (GSA) website.

2. Documenting a VE's Qualifications

When an ALJ admits a VE's vocational report or opinion into the record as an exhibit, or when an ALJ obtains a VE's testimony at a hearing, the ALJ will also admit into the record a written statement or resume of the VE's qualifications to the E section of the claim(s) file (see HALLEX I-2-1-15). The ALJ will also ask the VE to confirm impartiality, expertise, and professional qualifications on the record (i.e., verify the accuracy of their professional qualifications statement). See HALLEX I-2-6-74.