In order to save money and serve remote areas, the federal government has made a move towards holding video taped Hearings for Social Security disability applicants. In the video hearings, the federal Administrative Law Judge may be located in a city far from the hearing site, and even the vocational expert or other participants may be in yet a third location.
Herndon Virginia disability lawyer Doug Landau has participated in such video teleconferences in Social Security disability claims involving Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware participants. In addition to difficulties with the audio quality, the video feed is sometimes also problematic. Recent data from the Social Security Administration itself indicates that many Social Security claimants and representatives are choosing in-person hearings over the video teleconferencing option.
The national workload performance summary for the office of Social Security indicated that in the first two months of fiscal year 2015, over 220,000 claimants opted out of video hearings. This number represents more than one in five claims awaiting hearing. Based on fiscal year 2013 data, the Social Security Administration receives about 68,000 requests for hearings every month.
Evidence tends to suggest that comparing hearing requests received by the federal government for video hearings will provide information on the number of Social Security claims that were only willing to participate in live Hearings with Administrative Law Judges.
There are situations where video teleconference hearings may not be appropriate, such as where Landau’s client, suffering from Crohn’s disease, needed to run to the bathroom at unpredictable intervals. Other instances Landau has observed where a video teleconference hearing may not be appropriate include when a claimant has a mental impairment that makes video hearings frightening, or has an ailment that is not visually obvious, such as anhydrosis, body odor, minor tremors, etc. Landau notes that he much prefers in-person hearings. Assuming family, friends, and witnesses are able to convey the disabled claimant to the hearing site, it tends to go more smoothly and avoids the daunting process of an impersonal video teleconference.
If you or someone you know is seeking Social Security disability benefits and there are questions as to your options for a hearing or as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-795-9555).