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Recently, you may have received a notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) saying, that unless you object; that the SSA may schedule a video teleconference (VTC) hearing.
In a VTC hearing, you must go to a designated location with your representative while the judge will be in another location. The hearing is conducted through a television and video system. As is typical with Social Security hearings, there may be expert witnesses present at your VTC hearing. In this case, the witness may testify over the phone – and never see you.
The reason Social Security likes to hold VTC hearings is to assist with the backlog of cases waiting for a hearing. Additionally, it allows the Administration to save on travel costs as judges do not have to travel to remote locations to hear cases.
If you’re waiting for a hearing, it’s important for you to understand that you have a right to an in-person hearing for your case. Before you agree to a VTC hearing, take a moment to understand why disability attorneys prefer in-person hearings.
One of the most important parts of your hearing is your testimony. The VTC program is not free of technical difficulties. So it’s always possible the judge may not be able to hear you or see you if the equipment fails. Furthermore, if the expert witness is only available by phone, it’s also quite possible that neither you nor the judge will be able to hear their testimony.
The point of any hearing is for the judge to make a decision as to whether or not you are credible. As you can imagine, it’s easier for a judge to assess your credibility in person instead of through a television screen.
For example, if your claim is based on the fact that your back pain is so severe it affects your ability to walk, a judge would only be able to see your walk in person – not through a screen. Also, a judge is not able to see your emotion clearly through a screen.
If you live far away from your hearing office, you may worry about the expense of getting to your hearing. However, if you live more than 75 miles from the hearing office, the SSA will reimburse you for your travel expenses.
If you agree to a VTC hearing, your hearing may be held in front of a judge who is in a different part of the country. A great benefit to having a local attorney is that your attorney will be familiar with the practices of the local hearing offices and the requirements of the local judges.
Whether you have an upcoming VTC hearing or an in-person disability hearing, let our attorneys help you prepare. Call Nash Disability Law today to get started.