Since 2010 and 2011, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has attempted to reduce the backlog of Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) cases by allowing Administrative Law Judges (“ALJ”) to conduct disability appeal hearings by way of video teleconference (“VTC”).
The idea behind the move was that it would allow ALJs to conduct more hearings, thereby reducing the backlog.
Video hearings are frequently scheduled for people who live far away from their local Social Security Office of Hearing Operations (OHO), where in-person hearings are held. They are also frequently scheduled for individuals whose cases have been transferred to one of the National Hearing Centers (“NHC”) created by the SSA as another backlog-reducing measure, located in Falls Church, VA, Albuquerque, NM, Chicago, IL, Baltimore, MD and St. Louis, MO.
There are some benefits to having a video hearing, including getting to hearing faster and a more convenient location, but VTC hearings have their drawbacks too.
Here are just 2 reasons why you might not want to have a VTC disability hearing.
- VTC Hearings Make it More Difficult For ALJ To Assess You and Your Disability.
One of the reasons why an in-person hearing is so powerful is because you get a chance to see and talk to the ALJ and he (or she) gets a chance to see and talk to you.
How you look, move, speak, stand and sit when at a live hearing can help the ALJ really get a “feel” for you and your disability. Your credibility forms a very big part of your hearing. In a way, your in-person hearing is a chance for the ALJ to get to know you and to see for himself just how disabling your condition is.
When you have a VTC hearing, inevitably you distance yourself from the ALJ, making your situation less “real” to him. It’s less personal. It simply is much harder for the ALJ to see and hear you on video. And that makes it far more difficult for him to assess how credible (believable) you are.
In certain cases, like those that are seeking SSDI based on psychological disabilities, chronic pain or fatigue or other situations where a lot of objective medical evidence may be missing, your credibility can be key to your success.
The other major disadvantage to a VTC hearing is an offshoot of our number 1 reason above and it’s this: because being on video makes it harder for you to hear and see the ALJ and for the ALJ to hear and see you. VTC videos are frequently blurry and can experience all kinds of technical problems. If there are other witnesses (like a Vocational Expert) testifying remotely also, things can go from bad to worse.
Keep in mind that you do not have to agree to have your hearing held by video. You always have a right to an in-person hearing.
Ready to Help You.
If you need disability benefits or have been denied benefits, call us. Helping people in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois get the disability benefits they deserve is what we do. And it is the only thing we do. We practice only social security disability law. We have offices throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. We also have offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at 855-727-8625 or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.