Q & A: Who is responsible for calling upon and compensating the Medical Expert witness?
Posted Dec 28 2009 9:59am
Hello and welcome to the 4th installment of my Q & A series, which is designed to cover some of the more elusive topics associated with the Social Security Disability claims process. In this post, I answer a question asked about the Medical Expert witness (ME).
I have a disability hearing scheduled for next month in my Multiple Sclerosis disability case. As I have been unable to work for over a year, I have limited financial resources. I have read that an Administrative Law Judge often solicits the testimony of a medical expert on complex medical issues. Here are my questions: Who is responsible for assuring that the medical expert testifies at my Social Security disability hearing? And who compensates the medical expert? Is there any responsibility on my part?
This is a great question and one I have not actually been asked. You are correct that Judges (ALJs) often seek the testimony of medical expert witnesses (MEs) in complex medical situations like yours. Since ALJ’s have no direct communication with medical professionals and are not medically trained, testimony from medical experts provide ALJ’s with a more complete and detailed understanding of your medical and/or mental situation prior to his/her issuance of an opinion in your matter.
Here’s how it works: Each hearing office maintains a roster of medical experts who routinely testify as expert witnesses in disability hearings. If you spend enough time at any one Social Security hearing office, then you will likely start to notice the familiar faces of some of these medical experts, many of which are retired doctors who have a wealth of medical knowledge that can be used to help the judge make a well-informed decision.
Since the ALJ is the individual that solicits the expert’s opinion, the SSA incurs the costs of paying the medical expert. So in answer to your question, you are not responsible for compensating the ME. It is all taken care of by the SSA.
Also, since you are pursuing a Multiple Sclerosis disability claim, I would like to tell you and any one else interested that I have been working on a website dedicated solely to the topic of Multiple Sclerosis and Social Security Disability. Because I have seen a lot of MS disability claims over the years, I figured I would share some tips and knowledge on the subject. Please visit the site by clicking on the link, and be sure to let me know what you think!