A prior blog post entitled “Medically Equaling Analysis at Step Three of the Sequential Process” discussed the importance of having an updated opinion from a Medical Expert. If additional medical evidence obtained after the State agency physician reviewed the claim suggests that a medical equivalence may be reasonable, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) must obtain an updated medical opinion from a Medical Expert. This requirement may be satisfied by either having a Medical Expert present during a hearing to testify, or by obtaining his or her opinion through interrogatories (i.e., a set of written questions).
HALLEX I-2-5-44 outlines what an ALJ must do when the ALJ receives a Medical Expert’s response to his or her interrogatories.
When the ALJ receives a Medical Expert’s response to his or her interrogatories, the ALJ must:
- Provide a copy of the response to the claimant and the representative and notify them of the right to comment, submit further relevant evidence, propose additional interrogatories to the ME, and request a supplemental hearing with opportunity to question the ME at the supplemental hearing.
- If the claimant requests a supplemental hearing, the ALJ must grant the request, unless the ALJ receives additional documentary evidence that supports a fully favorable decision.
Questioning a Medical Expert is an essential part of a Social Security disability attorney’s job. Therefore, understanding the procedures and rules surrounding Medical Expert interrogatories is imperative.