TN 20 (01-12)
GN 03103.160 Hearing Witnesses
A. Who can introduce hearing witnesses
Claimants can introduce witnesses to testify at the hearing. The administrative law judge (ALJ) may also request people to come to the hearing as witnesses. Witnesses are not made a party to the hearing and do not receive a copy of the ALJ decision.
B. Field Office (FO) actions for hearing witnesses
1. Identifying witnesses
If the claimant does not have a representative, the FO may discuss whom to call as a witness if the claimant asks.
The FO sends the ALJ a list that includes the name and address of each potential witness, and the points on which each will testify.
The FO notifies the ALJ if the claimant plans to bring a physician to testify about his or her impairment.
2. Contacting witnesses
The claimant, not the FO, must ask witnesses to attend a hearing. (For information concerning subpoenas if a person refuses to be a witness, see GN 03103.170.) The FO should never try to persuade a person to be a witness.
Sometimes the ALJ may ask the FO to locate a witness. The ALJ may also ask the FO to contact a witness and report if the person is willing to be a witness, or if a subpoena is necessary. For example, if the question involves wages, and the ALJ wants an employer's testimony or records, the FO may request his or her presence at the hearing and make a report to the ALJ.
3. Contacting witnesses in another region
If the ALJ wants to get testimony from the witness who lives in another region, he or she may ask the ALJ for that region to take the witness's deposition. The FO servicing the area where the witness lives furnishes the assisting ALJ any aid he or she wants.
4. FO employee as a witness
When the ALJ wants a FO employee to be a witness, the ALJ sends a memorandum (original and one copy) to the FO through the Regional Commissioner (RC), and one copy directly to the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) Regional Office. In an emergency, and with the approval of the RC, the ALJ may send the request directly to the FO, Attention: District Manager. Allow the employee official time to attend the hearing and requires no subpoena. If the FO cannot spare the employee, advise the ALJ; and the ALJ may allow the employee to submit a written testimony.
NOTE: At the ALJ's discretion, FO employees may attend a hearing as spectators. The RC and the OHO Regional Office decides conditions of attendance. If the SSA employee wants to attend the hearing of a relative or friend, see GN 03980.005.
5. State administrator as a witness
When State or local employment coverage is an issue for resolution, the ALJ may send a letter to the appropriate State Administrator asking him or her, or a delegate to testify at the hearing, or to submit a written statement. The ALJ sends a copy of his or her letter to the FO parallel to the State Administrator.