TN 12 (09-19)
Continuances occur when either the beneficiary (or recipient) or representative or
one or more witnesses have good cause (see 20
CFR 404.914(c)(2) and 416.1414(c)(2)) for failing to appear at the scheduled hearing.
Continuances may be granted at the request of whoever appears at the hearing. If no
one appears at the hearing (or asks for postponement) and special handling considerations
are followed, the determination is based on the record.
The disability hearing officer (DHO) is responsible for deciding whether to grant
Continuances may also be initiated by the DHO, e.g., when it appears at the hearing
that an interpreter is unqualified to serve.
The adjourning and reconvening of the disability hearing at a later date.
Individuals who can offer professional testimony with regard to the beneficiary's
or recipient's impairment(s) or ability to work, e.g., physicians, recognized vocational
Ask the individual who has appeared to explain why the beneficiary (or recipient)
or representative failed to appear and why the person's presence is necessary.
Explore the possibility of holding the hearing with the individual who has appeared.
Make it clear that you will continue the hearing at a later date if the person appearing
does not wish to proceed or if you believe the non-appearing person is crucial to
Example: A beneficiary's (or recipient's) attorney does not appear—beneficiary (or recipient)
agrees to begin the hearing without the attorney; however, during the hearing, the
beneficiary (or recipient) states he or she does not wish to continue without the
attorney. Adjourn and reconvene the hearing so the attorney can be present.
Use judgment in deciding whether good cause exists to grant another continuance if
more than one has already been granted.
Explain that the hearing is the necessary first step in determining if witness testimony
is needed if the beneficiary (or recipient) or appointed representative refuses to
proceed with the hearing. Also, explain that if the hearing is not held, the case
will be decided on the record. Ensure that everyone understands the consequences of
refusing to proceed.
Hold the hearing as scheduled.
Decide at the conclusion of the hearing whether a continuance is warranted to obtain
testimony from the absent witness(es).
Consider the following factors in deciding whether to grant a continuance for all
witnesses. Use these factors as a balancing test and use discretion and judgment in
making the decision.
Whether there is good cause for why the witness did not attend the hearing (emergency,
surgery, etc.). Determine when the beneficiary (or recipient) or appointed representative
was aware that the witness could not attend and whether an attempt was made to postpone
Whether the testimony of the non-appearing witness(es) is material to the disability
determination based on a review of the entire record, including the evidence provided
at the hearing. This factor may be especially important in the case of expert witnesses,
e.g., the DHO may find that a continuance is warranted to obtain a physician’s testimony
on particular points in the adjudication process that may not be reflected in medical
reports previously submitted.
Annotate the hearing report form to reflect that a continuance was requested, who
requested it, and the reason the continuance was not granted.
Proceed with the determination as appropriate.
Document the claims folder to reflect that the case was continued, who requested the
continuance, and the reason the continuance was granted,
Schedule another hearing for the earliest date possible, and
Assign the case to the same DHO if a substantive action was taken.