Disability Hearings: Video Conference or In-Person?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been taking measures to reduce the backlog of disability hearings. One of the main ways they have done so is by offering Social Security disability hearings via video teleconferencing (VTC). In general, the claimant will appear at their local Social Security office, while the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will appear remotely via video.
VTC hearings can be scheduled sooner than in-person hearings and allow the ALJ to appear remotely, saving both time and money since travel is not needed. Records show, however, that a mere 27 out of 2,125 hearings in Las Vegas were held via VTC between September 2013 and September 2014. While the SSA is moving toward holding more hearings via video conference, there are still options for individuals who would prefer to appear before an ALJ face to face.
New Rule Allows Claimants to Object to Video Hearings
On September 6, 2014, the SSA implemented a new rule that requires the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) to notify the claimant that the office may schedule them to appear by video teleconferencing.** The claimant's representative must then respond in writing within 30 days if the claimant objects to appearing via video.
All responses regarding these video hearings are required to be sent in the business reply envelope provided with the notice so that they are proved to a specific fax number instead of flooding local offices with the responses.
**The SSA is also required to send notice of this opportunity to any claimant awaiting a scheduled hearing as of September 6 of this year.
I've received notice of a VTC hearing. What do I need to do?
If you do not mind having a VTC hearing, you do not need to respond. ODAR may then schedule you to appear for a video hearing instead of an in-person hearing with an ALJ. If you object to a VTC hearing, however, then your representative must respond in writing (using the provided business reply envelope) within 30 days of receiving the notice.
Video vs. In-Person Hearings: Pros & Cons
Video Hearing Pros
- Faster scheduling
- Reduced travel time and expenses
- You appear at your local Social Security office
Video Hearing Cons
- Lack of face-to-face interaction with the judge
- Technical difficulties are a possibility
In-Person Hearing Pros
- You meet face-to-face with your ALJ
- There is no risk of technical difficulties
In-Person Hearing Cons
- Delayed scheduling
- Travel time to ODAR (where all in-person hearings are held)
- Possible travel expenses (SSA only reimburses claimants who live 75 miles or more from the ODAR office)
Consult a Las Vegas Social Security Disability Attorney
If you have received notice of a video teleconferencing hearing and you want to make the best possible decision, speak with an SSD lawyer from Disability Action Advocates today. At DAA, we are familiar with the intricate Social Security laws and procedures. Our skilled legal team can help you understand your options and can guide you step by step as you fight to receive the benefits that you need and deserve.