Video Hearings of Social Security Disability Cases
Video hearings are teleconference hearings held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) via satellite. Video hearings allow you and other participants to see and hear each other through a large, color TV screen. The ALJ is even capable of zooming in or out to view the proceeding from various angles. Video hearings are not videotaped, but they are recorded, as are all hearings. The transmission of video hearings is highly secure to protect the privacy of claimants. Moreover, a technician is present during the entire hearing to ensure that the equipment works properly. The Social Security Administration (SSA) began offering video hearings in order to ease the backlog of Social Security Disability cases. The SSA recently announced that it wanted to reduce the waiting time for eligibility determinations to nine months by 2013, and video hearings are helping them reach this goal. Advantages of Video Hearings Hearing dates are typically set sooner when a video hearing is scheduled. This is a welcome change since many claimants have had to wait over a year just to have a hearing scheduled. Furthermore, video hearings facilitate hearings for claimants who have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to travel. Video hearings have significantly reduced travel times for many claimants. Additionally, video hearings make it easier for witnesses and other people to accompany claimants. All in all, video hearings are becoming increasingly common because of the convenience factor. Video hearings are typically held in rural areas, where a hearing office could be located hundreds of miles away from a claimant. In busy urban areas, video hearings are typically not held since most people live just a few miles away from the hearing office and could get there just as easily. Disadvantages of Video Hearings There aren't any blatant disadvantages to video hearings. A video hearing would only be disadvantageous if you personally prefer having an in-person one. Some claimants would simply rather have a traditional hearing because they want to be in the same room and face-to-face with the ALJ. And then there's the fact that some people just feel uncomfortable testifying via video. Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not your hearing will be conducted via video or in person. If video hearing equipment is used in your area and the SSA contacts you to schedule a video hearing, you can object. Bear in mind, however, that if you do so, it may take several more months for your hearing to be rescheduled. If you're tired of waiting and just want to get your hearing over with, it would be in your best interest to accept a video hearing and schedule it immediately. Have Any Questions about Video Hearings? If you have any questions about video hearings or about the appeals process in general, please fill out our online contact form. Whether or not you are going to have a video hearing, we would be glad to help you navigate the appeals process, so you have the best chance of winning your case.