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Is a medical expert going to testify at your Social Security hearing? If so, do you know why they are going to say? Do you know what the judge is going to ask them? Can the medical expert examine you at the hearing?

If you are wondering about these questions, then you are in the right place. Because we have answers.

First, it is easy to find out if a medical expert will testify at your hearing. You simply need to check your hearing notice. Normally, one of the later pages in the packet of information the SSA sends you, will contain the notice that a medical expert will attend. The notice states the name of the doctor and the area of medicine they practice in. Normally, you will not want to object to a medical expert at your hearing.

Second, if you have a complex medical condition, it is possible to request that a medical expert attend your hearing. However, medical experts are usually witnesses who are invited to testify by the judge.

Medical experts, or ME’s, are trained in Social Security law. For example, they know SSA’s listing of medical conditions, which is also called the “blue book.”

Therefore, even if you ask for your own doctor to testify at your hearing, your doctor is not a “medical expert.” At least according to the SSA. This does not mean your doctor is not an expert in their field. Rather, it simply means your doctor is not familiar with SSA’s rules.

medical expert in court


If the SSA has denied your Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, then you have the right to request a hearing.  Your hearing will be before an administrative law judge (ALJ) from the Social Security Administration. The ALJ’s job is to evaluate your claim, review your medical records, and determine if you can be paid benefits.

Medical Experts or ME’s commonly testify at SSD hearings. They are called by the ALJ to read your medical records. Also, they explain your medical conditions to the judge. Additionally, they testify as to whether or not your medical condition meets or equals an SSA listing. Similarly, an ME can be requested by your Social Security attorney. This is, however, mostly done in complex medical cases.

The medical expert who appears at the hearing is not your treating doctor. The doctor must have never met you. Because, the ME’s testimony is worthless unless they are an objective third party who has no former knowledge of your case.


Medical experts are doctors or psychologists who the SSA calls to be witnesses. Doctors testify about physical illness. Psychologists testify only about mental conditions.

The ME provides opinion evidence that the ALJ considers when making a decision about your case. For example, if you have cancer, then the doctor might testify that you meet the cancer listing. In order to do this, the ME must review the medical records in your file before your hearing.

Additionally, the ME can testify about whether your Depression meets SSA’s listing 12.04. Likewise, an ME who is a psychologist can testify about your PTSD, Anxiety, or other severe mental conditions.

Usually, the medical expert testifies in person at a hearing. They may also testify by video or by telephone.

It is also possible for an ME to answer written questions after the hearing. The questions are sent after the hearing. Interrogatories require review and possibly filing objections. If you do not know how to do this, then hire an attorney. Do not make the mistake of not preparing for the medical expert.

Prior to your hearing, you can review the medical experts resume. If an ME is going to testify at your hearing, then they must submit a resume about their experience to the court. If the medical expert does not have the proper expertise, then the attorney can object to the ME. Remember, at the hearing, the burden to prove you should be paid SSD benefits is on you.


In order to qualify as a medical expert for your hearing, the ME must be a doctor or psychologist. Also, they must be an expert in their area of medicine.

A psychologist, for example, is not allowed to give testimony regarding your physical health. Likewise, a medical doctor cannot testify as to your mental conditions. Additionally, the medical expert must be familiar with the following:

  • What is a medical condition that the SSA finds to be severe
  • How the SSA defines the symptoms, signs, and lab findings for medical conditions
  • The need to consider the combined effects of medical conditions
  • The Listing of Impairments (known as the “listings”)
  • SSA’s definition of “meeting” and what it means to “equal” a listing
  • The concept of residual functional capacity (RFC) for all cases except SSI child cases. This includes the types of evidence that proves your RFC
  • In cases where a child is under age 18, the areas of medicine, child development, and SSA’s rules about different areas of function for children
  • SSA’s rule that your condition must last and keep you from working for over one year

The ME, during testimony, must cite to specific evidence to support their testimony. Also, the ME cannot comment on other matters in your case. For example, the ME cannot offer an opinion as to whether you can do your previous work. The ME cannot offer an opinion about whether you are “disabled.” This is a question of law for the ALJ.


You may be wondering what questions the ALJ will ask the medical expert at your hearing. First, the ALJ will ask the ME to if they can give fair testimony, without regard for their fee. If they say yes, then they can testify.

Second, the ALJ will also whether the ME’s resume is correct. Third, the ALJ will likely ask whether the ME is familiar with SSA’s rules.

Next, the ALJ will ask the ME to outline your medical conditions. The ME will do so and also cite to the record to show the judge if the medical record supports your medical condition. Finally, the ME will testify as to whether or not your condition meets or equals an SSA listing. Medical experts often testify about rare medical conditions, like leukemia or breast cancer.

SSA’s rules provide for the possibility of being able to equal a listing. They allow a medical condition to equal a listing because they cannot include every possible medical condition on one list. It also allows the ME and ALJ to take into account the combination of all of your symptoms.

For example, if you ME is a psychologist, they will testify about whether your depression meets listing 12.04. Find out more about SSD benefits for depression. Similarly, if you have a back condition, then the doctor will testify about whether your back pain meets listing 1.15.


Additionally, the ME can testify about your RFC. The ME’s testimony will be based on your medical records. Your RFC is important because if you do not meet or equal a listing, then a job expert will use your RFC to determine if you can work. Learn more about testimony from the job expert.

The medical expert can ask you questions during the hearing. But, the ME’s questions are usually only to clarify a fact in your medical history. Often, the ALJ will decide whether the ME’s questions are important to the case. If the ALJ doesn’t think so, they may not let the ME ask you questions.

The ALJ may also ask the question herself or she may allow the ME to question you. The ME, however, cannot conduct any type of physical or mental exam during the hearing. If the ME tries to do so, your attorney should object.

In addition giving testimony about your RFC, a medical expert can also use records to confirm your onset date of disability. This is important because your onset date determines how much back pay you will receive.

For example, if the ME states your medical condition began two years prior to your application date, then you should get benefits for up to one year of back pay prior to your application date.

However, it is also possible for the medical expert to testify you should not get past due benefits. The ME can claim you only recently became disabled. Even though you haven’t been working for years. That is why hiring an attorney is so important. The attorney can use the medical record to prove the ME’s testimony is wrong. Your attorney will fight for your full back benefit.


In order to figure out your physical RFC, the ME will examine your medical records. They will take into account what your doctor states in your medical records. Also, the ME will review any statements from your doctors about your ability to work.

Additionally, the ME will review what SSA’s doctors have to say. These are the doctors that never meet or examine you. Instead, they review the medical record and offer an opinion about your RFC. These doctors are paid by the SSA and work for DDS, the state agency who reviews all cases.

If the SSA sends you to a free doctor exam, then the ME will also take the opinion of these doctors into account. Learn more here about what to expect at the SSA’s doctor exam.

The ME will also consider descriptions about your limits from your family, neighbors and friends. Find out more information about what types of evidence the SSA must consider. For example, your family or friends could write a statement about your mental and physical symptoms. Find out more here about RFC and how it, along with age, can keep you from working. Also, learn more about SSA’s Medical Vocational Guidelines.


Unfortunately, if you do not hire an attorney to help you, then you will probably lose your case. Most cases turn on the ME’s testimony at the hearing. An attorney can make sure that all of your symptoms are being considered by the medical expert.

You will also need an attorney to question the medical expert. You may be able to provide testimony on your own to the judge, but when it comes time to ask questions of the ME, you need knowledge of SSA’s rules. Likewise, you need to understand your medical condition and the medical record.

The rules regarding the types of jobs and how physical conditions fit into those jobs are complex. If you do not have an attorney, then you can lose your hearing due to the testimony of the medical expert.

If your attorney has experience, then they will know what the ME is likely to say in response to the ALJ’s questions. They will also know how to question the ME and solicit testimony regarding your RFC. Learn more about the role of your RFC. The RFC is crucial to the SSA deciding to pay you benefits. Especially if your mental or physical condition does not meet an SSA listing.

Questioning the medical expert is difficult. Trying to do it yourself is a bad idea. Especially if you have never done it before. If nothing else, you should hire an attorney to represent you if the Judge has called a medical expert to your hearing. Learn more information, if you have questions about your hearing.


If you want to learn more about the lawyers and staff at our firm, then read our About Us page. For example, Andria Summers can help you prepare for your hearing. She has also won thousands of SSD and SSI cases. Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. Also, he has a license to practice law in Idaho. Find out more about Idaho SSDI benefits.

In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Our experts can help you apply for benefits using the SSA’s website. Likewise, if you need an appeal, then we can help you do that too.

There are also many forms that will need to be filled out. Don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, we will answer them. You can learn more about SSA’s appeal forms. Call us for free today.

Additionally, we represent clients in many states, including Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and California. Find out more about Nevada SSDI benefits. Learn more about Utah SSDI and SSI benefits and California SSD benefits. Learn more how long the wait time is for the SSA’s decision.

No matter where you live, we want to be your legal team. Also, no matter what state you live in, we can talk to you for free about your case.  Contact us. We will do our best to answer your questions about whether a medical expert will testify. Because we want you to win your SSD benefits.


Prior to your hearing, you may need to hire an attorney. In order to hire our law firm, all you need to do is call or contact us. We offer a free review of your case. Also, it also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us.

Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This means if we win your SSD case, then you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, then there is no attorney fee for you to pay.

The best thing about hiring us is we take care of your case. We have experts who will help you apply for SSD and SSI benefits. If you need help filing out SSA’s paperwork, we will help you fill out the forms. We help you collect your records. Also, we appeal any SSA denial. If your case is denied, then we request your hearing.

Then, we prepare you for court. Preparation for court requires review of your records. It also requires preparing you as a witness. We help you testify about your condition and explain the questions the judge will ask you.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay those. But normally those costs are less than $100 and consist of paying for copies of your medical records. Once we win, we are paid from your back benefit. But, to hire most lawyers, you have to pay upfront. We don’t work like that. You don’t have a job. So, the only way to pay the attorney fee, is for us to win your case. That is our goal. Contact us. See what we can do for you.


Many law firms claim they “specialize” in Social Security law. But, they really don’t. Instead, they practice personal injury law. Or, they practice some other type of law that has nothing to do with Social Security benefits.

These law firms think you will call and not question their experience. Because they have so little experience, they think Social Security cases are easy. Don’t be fooled.

Helping a few Social Security clients does not make those firms experts. Nor does it give them the experience to question a medical expert about SSA’s rules. Before you hire them, ask them how many SSD and SSI cases they have taken to court. If it is less than 100, then don’t hire them. Learn more about the mistakes you should not make at your hearing.

When you hire your Social Security attorney, choose one who has over 30 years of experience. Choose the lawyer with the best record. You want the best SSD attorney to help you. Find one who can question the medical expert. Because you need to win benefits. In order to win, you should choose a law firm who only practices Social Security law. Choose us. Contact us now. We know how to question the medical expert and win your SSD and SSI benefits.

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