I-2-1-45.Parties to the Hearing

Last Update: 4/1/16 (Transmittal I-2-169)

A. General

Any individual is a party to a hearing if:

  • He or she was a party to the initial, reconsidered, or revised determination; or

  • He or she shows in writing that his or her rights may be adversely affected by the hearing; or

  • The individual's rights may be adversely affected by the administrative law judge (ALJ) decision or dismissal.

See 20 CFR 404.932 and 416.1432.

However, note the following special situations:

  • A wage earner's (WE) survivor (widow(er), surviving divorced spouse, mother or father, or surviving child) has the same rights as a WE to appeal a change in or refusal to change the WE's earnings record. The survivor in such a case does not need to establish that he or she would be adversely affected by the ALJ's decision to be made a party to the hearing. A timely filed request in writing to be made a party to the hearing is sufficient.

  • When a request for hearing involves a determination regarding the crediting of self-employment income between a married couple, the ALJ will make both individuals parties to the hearing because the ALJ's decision regarding the income of one of the parties may adversely affect the rights of the other.

  • Workers' compensation representatives are not parties to the hearing. ALJs will deny requests to intervene filed by workers' compensation representatives.

  • If a claimant dies after filing a request for hearing, see Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-1-50 for substitute party issues and HALLEX I-2-4-35 for instructions on dismissals due to the death of a claimant.

B. Informing Individuals Who Are Parties to the Hearing

When the hearing office (HO) staff has identified the parties, the ALJ must inform each party of his or her rights, unless the individual waives, in writing, his or her right to be a party to the hearing.


See HALLEX I-2-4-30 for information about a proper party for purposes of filing a request for hearing.

C. Multiple Parties

When there are multiple parties involved in a claim(s), one ALJ will have jurisdiction to resolve the issues for all parties. The ALJ will obtain testimony in one hearing if possible. The ALJ may allow the parties to testify in the presence of each other unless the ALJ determines it is not appropriate, or one or more of the parties requests to testify separately and the other parties consent. Additionally, subject to objections under HALLEX I-2-0-21, the ALJ may direct any party to the hearing to appear by video teleconferencing (VTC) or, in extraordinary circumstances, by telephone. See HALLEX I-2-1-45 D below.

The ALJ will issue one decision that addresses all issues and incorporates the proceedings of the hearing and any supplemental hearing. When the ALJ issues a decision, he or she will send copies to all parties with notice of the right to request review by the Appeals Council. For more information about ALJ decisions, see HALLEX I-2-8-0.

For more information on joining multiple cases in one hearing, see HALLEX I-2-1-65 B and I-2-6-60 E.


When corresponding with one party, an ALJ or HO staff must not disclose information about another party that is not relevant to the issues in the case and which the other party has requested that the agency not disclose. For example, an ALJ must not disclose a party's address to another party if the party has requested that it not be disclosed. If the address appears on an exhibit that must be disclosed, the HO staff must disclose only a copy of the exhibit with the address redacted. See also HALLEX I-1-4-3 E and I-2-1-15.

D. Geographic Considerations

The ALJ will not deny any proper party the right to a hearing or the right to present evidence because of geographic considerations. ALJs will encourage all parties, regardless of location, to attend the hearing. The ALJ will determine if a claimant or other party to the hearing will appear in-person, by VTC, or by telephone. See HALLEX I-2-0-15 for an overview of hearings by VTC or telephone. See also HALLEX I-2-3-13 for issues relating to reimbursement of travel expenses.

When a party is unable to attend a hearing, the ALJ may consider the following options:

  • The ALJ may schedule a supplemental hearing.

  • If a party requests to present sworn testimony instead of attending a hearing, the ALJ may use the procedures in HALLEX I-2-6-20.