I-2-5-40.Obtaining Medical Expert Opinion After the Hearing

Last Update: 1/21/20 (Transmittal I-2-232)

An administrative law judge (ALJ) may determine medical expert (ME) evidence is needed during or after a hearing. For example, evidence produced during the hearing may suggest the claimant's impairment(s) medically equal a listing.

When an ME 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:

If the ALJ determines a supplemental hearing is needed, the ME will generally appear by video teleconferencing or telephone.


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