I-2-5-55.The Vocational Expert's Testimony

Last Update: 9/28/05 (Transmittal I-2-68)

During the opening statement, the ALJ must explain why VE testimony is necessary. The VE may attend the entire hearing, but this is not required.

Before the VE testifies, the ALJ must:

  • ensure on the record that the VE has examined all vocational evidence of record;

  • ensure that the record contains an accurate statement of the VE's professional qualifications;

  • give the claimant and the representative an opportunity to ask the VE questions about his or her professional qualifications; and

  • summarize the opening statement or relevant testimony on the record (e.g., testimony regarding the claimant's vocational history) if the VE was not present.


All VE testimony must be on the record.

The ALJ should take care to elicit useful and objective testimony from the VE. For examples of the types of questions the ALJ might ask, see I-2-5-94, Sample-Interrogatories to Vocational Expert.

If the VE's reply to an ALJ's question is ambiguous or overly technical, the ALJ must follow-up with more specific questions. An ALJ must not question a VE about any matter which is not within the VE's area of expertise and responsibility. For example, the ALJ must not ask a VE about medical matters, how the ALJ should decide the case or whether the number of jobs identified by the VE in the regional and national economies are “significant.” However, the ALJ can ask the VE to provide the number of specific jobs identified in the regional and national economies.

If certain VE testimony is based on an assumption, the VE or ALJ must clearly describe the assumption on the record.

If a claimant raises an objection about a VE's opinion, the ALJ must rule on the objection and discuss any ruling in the decision.

The ALJ must also determine if there are any conflicts between the jobs identified by the VE and how the jobs are described in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and how the jobs are performed in today's workplace. If there are conflict(s), the ALJ must ask the VE to identify the conflict(s) and inquire how the VE resolved the conflict(s) and whether the conflict(s) impact the number of jobs testified to by the VE. If the number of jobs testified to by the VE as being available are impacted, the ALJ must obtain from the VE the basis of any adjustments and how the adjustments were derived. See SSR 00-4p.