If your Social Security disability claim has been turned down, you have the right of filing an appeal against the denial. A part of the appeals process is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Video hearings form part of the new methodology for these meetings. Nearly 25% of the recipients of SSDI benefits receive them after appealing an initial denial and then having their claim approved after the ALJ hearing. However, it is imperative that you retain a Social Security disability lawyer when seeking a hearing.
When requesting an ALJ hearing, you can typically choose between two options. You can either appear in front of the ALJ in person at a Social Security Office of Hearing Operations (OHO), or you can opt for video hearings which are also known as video teleconferences (VTC). Both options have their pros and cons, and it is important to understand how VTC works as well as its key benefits before you opt for video hearings.
How Do Video Hearings Work?
When you have a video hearing scheduled for your ALJ hearing, you are asked to come to a specified Social Security Administration (SSA) location. This is typically the local SSA field office. You can appear at the office along with your attorney. If no field office is close enough, you may be allowed to have the video hearing arranged at your attorney’s office.
During the hearing, the ALJ is present remotely via video. You and your attorney interact with the ALJ over the video. The judge may ask you the same set of questions that you will be asked at an in-person hearing. An expert witness, such as a physician, may also accompany you during the video hearing.
For applications that have their disability cases transferred to the National Hearing Center (NHC), video hearings are scheduled by default. However, if this is the case with your claim, you still have a full right to opt-out of the video hearing and choose to go with an in-person hearing instead.
Benefits of Video Teleconference (VTC)
A video hearing for your Social Security disability claim has numerous benefits when compared to an in-person hearing. Here is a look at these.
Less Traveling Required
For some disability benefits applicants, traveling to an OHO location can be quite cumbersome. This is particularly the case if the office is distant from your address. A video hearing can be a very helpful alternative in such a case. You can have the hearing scheduled for an SSA field office that is closer to your location, or request for a video hearing from your lawyer’s office. In both cases, you will need to travel less and undergo far less hassle.
Comfort and Convenience
Traveling to a distant office and appearing before a judge in formal settings can be quite daunting. Although the hearing is not like a typical court hearing, you may still feel anxiety and stress on account of it. A video hearing, in contrast, is a lot less stressful. This is because you are more relaxed and interact with a judge over video in more informal settings. The hearing is even more comfortable and convenient if it is scheduled at a law firm’s office. An added sense of convenience may also be offered by a video hearing, given the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
Less Wait Time
One of the stand-out advantages of a video hearing is that you have to wait less to have a hearing scheduled. For in-person hearings, SSA has a long backlog as most applicants opt for the in-person ALJ hearing. So if you opt for a video hearing, you are likely to have your hearing scheduled quicker. If you are someone who wants a quick decision on their claim, the video hearing can be a viable option.
Suitable for People With Mobility Issues
Many disability benefits applicants have medical issues which are not conducive to traveling long distances, or waiting and sitting at an office. If you have mobility issues like these, a video hearing saves you the trouble. It avoids the hassle of having to travel several hours for your hearing, instead allowing you to undergo hearing at a closer and more convenient location.
No Difference in the Nature of Proceedings
In general, there is no difference in the nature of proceedings between a video teleconference hearing and an in-person hearing. The judge will ask you the same questions and proceed in the same way as done in a face-to-face hearing.
Why Hire a Greenville Social Security Lawyer?
If you are seeking a hearing for your Social Security disability claim, it is important to consult a reliable lawyer. A good lawyer will help you make the choice between a video hearing and an in-person hearing, depending on the unique circumstances of your claim. Here at Robert Surface Law Firm, our attorneys can guide you in making the right choice while also ensuring that you have sound legal help during the hearing. Call us today to discuss your claim with us in a free consultation.