Typical Hearing Scenarios

ALJ Questions the Claimant

The Administrative Law Judge's questions typically cover the claimant's

  • background
  • activities of daily living (ADL's)
  • impairments
  • medical treatment
  • functional limitations

Attorney Asks Questions

The claimant's attorney fills in gaps in the ALJ's questioning, making sure the record reflects all the points critical to the claimant's case.

ALJ Questions Medical Advisor

The Administrative Law Judge questions the medical advisor about whether the claimant meets a listing, meaning that the claimant's impairment matches one or more of the regulatory descriptions of impairments as published in the Listing of Impairments, Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404.

If the claimant's impairment does not meet a listing, the ALJ questions the medical advisor about the claimant's Residual Functional Capacity. The medical advisor can hurt or help the claimant's case. The claimant's attorney may cross-examine the witness about qualifications or basis for opinion.

ALJ Questions Vocational Expert

The Administrative Law Judge asks the vocational expert hypothetical questions about claimants with the same age, work history, and Residual Functional Capacity. The vocational expert can hurt or help the claimant's case.


The claimant, or the attorney if there is one, may cross-examine witnesses about their qualifications or the basis for their opinions. A claimant normally cannot participate in the cross-examination if an attorney is present.


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