I-2-6-40.Record of the Hearing

Last Update: 8/29/14 (Transmittal I-2-119)

Citations: Social Security Act § 205(g); 20 CFR 404.951 and 416.1451.

A. General

The administrative law judge (ALJ) must make a complete record of the hearing proceedings. Therefore, the ALJ or designee will make a verbatim audio recording of the entire hearing. This is the official record of the proceeding.


See Hearing, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-6-52 D when a claimant requests to make a private recording of the hearing proceedings. However, no individual is permitted to take photographs or use video recording devices during a hearing. If an ALJ or other hearing office (HO) staff member suspects a camera or video recording device is being used during the hearing, he or she may require that the device be removed from the hearing room.

If a question arises during the course of a hearing that is not relevant to the issues in the claimant's case, the ALJ may decide to discuss and resolve it off-the-record. However, the ALJ must summarize on the record the content and conclusion of any off-the-record discussion.

B. Recording the Hearing

Every Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) office throughout the United States and in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is equipped with digital recording devices. These devices simultaneously record every ALJ hearing onto a laptop computer's hard drive and onto a recordable compact disc (CD). The digital recording process allows for real-time monitoring and audio confirmation of recording, as well as indexing and annotation during and after the hearing.


The term “hearing assistant” refers to an HO employee who assists the ALJ with recording the hearing. OHO will also use Verbatim Hearing Reporters (VHR), who are non-government contractors, in this role. The duties and responsibilities of a VHR are determined by the Statement of Work (SOW) and the Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA).


If no recording system is available, the ALJ must suspend the oral testimony until the equipment becomes available.


In regard to the hearing recording, additional actions may be required if any participant to the hearing appears via video teleconferencing or by telephone. See the instructions in the HO Standard Hearings Operations Procedure (SHOP) sections 4.2.11.

1. Hearing Assistant or VHR Responsibilities Prior to the Hearing

Before each hearing, the hearing assistant or VHR must:

  • Conduct the pre-hearing recording activities;

  • Set up the recording equipment to ensure that testimony given by the witnesses will be properly recorded;

  • Test the recording equipment; and

  • Prepare the recording media.

For more information, see SHOP section 4.4, HALLEX I-2-6-42, and I-2-6-44.

2. Hearing Assistant or VHR Actions During the Hearing

The hearing assistant or VHR monitors the proceedings and conducts hearing-related activities once the hearing begins. During the hearing, the hearing assistant or VHR will assist the ALJ by monitoring the recording equipment to ensure that it is functioning properly and must immediately inform the ALJ of any equipment malfunction.

If a foreign language interpreter or American Sign Language interpreter is used, either in person or via telephone, the hearing assistant or VHR will note this in the hearing notes and ensure that the interpretation is properly recorded. See HALLEX I-2-6-10, I-2-1-70, I-2-6-12, and I-2-1-72.

3. Hearing Assistant or VHR Actions After the Hearing

For claims with a Certified Electronic Folder (CEF), the hearing assistant or VHR will ensure that the digital recording on the CD is audible and complete and will either upload the digital recording to the Multimedia Section of the CEF or verify that the digital recording was uploaded overnight for hearings held at LAN connected hearing sites. He or she will also ensure the digital recording is audible using the Record Player Application (FTR utility). If the upload was unsuccessful, or if the recording is inaudible, the hearing assistant or VHR will notify the hearing office systems administrator. See SHOP section 4.6.11.

For paper cases, the hearing assistant or VHR will confirm that the recording on the CD is audible and complete, and will place it in the digital media envelope.

In concurrent paper claims under titles II and XVI, the hearing assistant or VHR will prong-file the envelope containing the CD on the left side of the title II claim folder. See HALLEX I-2-8-50 and SHOP section 4.6.11.


The DRAP (Digital Recording Audio System) intranet page includes specific set up and recording instructions, media handling procedures, information about obtaining recording supplies, copies of training materials, and instructions for contacting the help desk for assistance or resolving maintenance issues. See also SHOP section 4.6.


If the recording equipment malfunctions during the hearing, the ALJ must suspend the oral testimony until the equipment is repaired or replaced.