Once a hearing has been requested for your Social Security disability (SSD) claim, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will give you the option to either appear via video conference for your hearing or request to have an in-person hearing. SSA has been scheduling video hearings since 2003. The benefit of a video hearing is that the average processing time is reduced along with any travel expenses. The downfall is that you are testifying in front of a judge through a video screen. Some people argue that by the judge not being in the room with the claimant they are not able to get a clear picture of what is going on with the claimant. Something is essentially lost in translation without the in person contact.
SSA has always given an individual an option to object to having a video hearing. The right to request an in-person hearing is protected by your due process rights in the Constitution.
When can I object to a video hearing?
In the past few months, SSA has changed its policy on when an individual is able to object to having a video hearing. It used to be that you could object to having a video hearing at any point during the hearing process. Now, SSA is giving you 30 days from the date your case is transferred to a national hearing center to object to having a video hearing.
The big question is do you object to having a video hearing?
The first step should be to discuss it with your attorney. If you don’t have an attorney you should absolutely get one at this point. Going to a hearing by yourself without knowing the rules and regulations will most certainly place you at a disadvantage when you go before the administrative law judge. If you have an attorney they will know what the best plan of attack is. A local attorney will know their hearing office the best and will have a good idea of what your chances of getting approved are with that pool of judges.
That’s generally going to be the main question: what are your chances of winning with the national hearing center vs. your local office? The other pressing issue is whether you can wait a few months longer for your hearing to be scheduled in your local office. Or if due to financial issues you need to take your chances with a video hearing so as to have it scheduled sooner.
Objecting to a video hearing is a big issue and can have a major effect on the outcome of your case. It should not be taken lightly. If you don’t already have an attorney, get one to help you make this important decision!