The path to winning Social Security disability benefits has always been a long journey, often difficult to navigate. Because of a backlog of hundreds of thousands of disability cases, wait times can be long for disabled Americans to have their day in court. In an effort to reduce the backlog, Social Security is conducting some hearings via video teleconference. If you participate in a video hearing, you and your attorney show up at a specified location near where you live, and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will be deciding your case is in some other location and appears remotely on a TV screen.
From Social Security’s point of view, video hearings are more efficient and are less expensive because there aren’t travel expenses for the ALJs. For you, video hearings may be more conveniently located and Social Security indicates that they may be scheduled more quickly than in-person hearings.
But the question remains: Should you participate in a video hearing? Social Security regulations give you the absolute right to an in-person hearing. Our recommendation is to always exercise your right and choose the in-person hearing, because the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. In other words, convenience may kill your disability case.
In large part, disability cases hinge on whether or not an ALJ believes your conditions are as limiting as you say they are. It is our experience that it is easier for the judge to assess this sincerity in person, face-to-face, rather than through a television screen. Also, it is easier to read body language and pick up on nuances in-person rather than through camera shots transmitted to a screen. For these reasons, you often have a better chance of being approved for benefits through an in-person hearing. Government statistics bear this out. A higher percentage of claimants are approved at in-person hearings compared to video hearings.
Another frequent problem is technical difficulties which plague video conference hearings. Blurry video, audio delays, power interruptions, and all kinds of other technical glitches are common at video hearings. Murphy’s Law still rules.
To ensure swift processing of your objection, we advise that if you’re going to object to a video hearing. You must do so within 30 days of receiving the objection form.
When you are disabled and unable to work, the stress can be overwhelming. It is likely that you have many questions about Social Security disability, and you are finding that clear answers are hard to come by. If you are faced with having to make difficult decisions and you are unsure of where to turn for advice, we encourage you to turn to Nash Disability Law. Take advantage of our free consultation about your situation. Just give us a call or email us through our website.