I-2-6-56.Adducing the Evidence

Last Update: 8/2/16 (Transmittal I-2-185)

Under sections 205(b) and 1631(c) of the Social Security Act, an administrative law judge (ALJ) must base his or her decision on “evidence adduced at the hearing.” The regulations provide that the ALJ will look fully into the issues, question the claimant and other witnesses, and accept as evidence any documents that are material to the issues. See 20 CFR 404.944 and 416.1444. “Evidence” is defined in 20 CFR 404.1512(b) and 416.912(b).

An ALJ has a duty to ensure that the administrative record is fully and fairly developed. See 20 CFR 404.1512(d)-(e) and 416.912(d)-(e). An ALJ will make reasonable attempts to obtain evidence pertinent to the matters at issue. Instructions for developing specific issues are set forth throughout Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-5.

Hearing office (HO) staff will document any attempts to develop the record and associate the documentation with the claim(s) file. Documenting the record is essential to show that the ALJ informed the claimant of the need for specific evidence to decide an issue (e.g., earnings information), the ALJ gave the claimant adequate opportunity to obtain and submit requested evidence, or the ALJ otherwise made every reasonable effort to obtain the evidence. At times, the HO will not be successful in its attempts to obtain evidence. In order to demonstrate the ALJ fulfilled his or her duty under 20 CFR 404.1512 and 416.912, HO staff will mark as proposed exhibits all documentation showing attempts to obtain the evidence.

When evidence is received, the ALJ must decide whether to admit it into the record as an exhibit. For instructions on how an ALJ determines what information to admit to the record, see HALLEX I-2-6-58. When adducing the evidence, the ALJ will also take necessary actions to address any conflicts in the evidence.