I-2-5-52.Selecting a Vocational Expert

Last Update: 6/16/16 (Transmittal I-2-174)

A. Selecting a Vocational Expert (VE) from the Regional Office (RO) Roster

Each Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) regional office (RO) maintains a roster of VEs who have agreed to provide impartial expert opinion pursuant to a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) with ODAR. For more information on BPAs, including how to invoice when a BPA is used, see Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-5-31. Except in the limited circumstances outlined in B below, hearing office (HO) staff will select a VE from the RO roster. If a VE is not available on the RO roster, HO staff will coordinate with the RO to obtain the services of a VE from another ODAR RO's roster.

Assisting HO staff will select VEs from the roster in rotation whenever possible. VEs must be rotated equitably. When HO staff selects a VE from the roster, the VE will go to the bottom of the roster and will not be selected again until all other available VEs who are higher on the roster have been selected.


For administrative efficiency reasons, HO staff may select a VE to provide expert opinion evidence at multiple hearings held on the same day. Although HO staff is responsible for selecting the particular expert, the ALJ determines how the VE appears at the hearing, whether in person or via video teleconferencing or telephone. HALLEX I-2-3-10 A.2.

B. Selecting a VE Not on the RO Roster

An ALJ may use a VE who does not have a BPA with ODAR only if:

  • No VE on any RO roster is available; or

  • Other extenuating circumstances require a one-time purchase of VE services.

For more information on qualifying a VE who is not under a BPA and paying the VE, see HALLEX I-2-1-31.

C. Notifying the Claimant of the Selection

When an ALJ determines that VE testimony is needed and HO staff selects a VE, the ALJ will inform the claimant and appointed representative, if any, in the notice of hearing. See HALLEX I-2-3-15.