July 6, 2009

Social Security Video Hearing – What is it and why am I having one?

Finally, your Social Security Disability claim has been scheduled for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and you have been told it is a “video hearing”.  Most Indianapolis Social Security Disability claimants may wonder what a video hearing is and why are they scheduled to have one? 


TV.JPGVideo hearings
are hearings where the judge is at a different location from the claimant and will appear on a large colored television screen at your location.  The judge is able to speak, hear, or see anyone at the hearings office location.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) states that your privacy is protected and the hearing transmission is done in a secure manner.  A video hearing consists of the same elements as hearing in person.  The video hearing is not video taped but the SSA does make an audio recording.  At the local hearings room, there will be the claimant, a court reporter, and if the claimant desires representation, a Social Security Disabiltiy Attorney or representative.  Sometimes a medical expert and/or a vocational (job) expert may testify at the hearing. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) believes that using video technology may be a faster way to get a hearing, may be more convenient, and also may be more efficient.  The Indianapolis Social Security Hearing’s Office is currently one of the most backlogged hearings offices in the country.  Many video hearings take place in Indianapolis due to the tremendous backlog.  

While it might be true that video hearings may be a way to expedite your social security disability case heard by a judge, there may also be some drawbacks.  A hearing held in front of a judge rather than by video may be more personal.  This may give the judge the opportunity to actually look at the claimant in close proximity enabling the judge to assess the claimant’s physical or even mental disability by being able to directly observe the claimant in person.  This could include the way the claimant may struggle entering and/or exiting the hearing room, facial gestures associated with pain, or even credibility associated with face-to-face contact. 

Although there are many advantages to video hearings, it should also be recognized that this type of hearing may take away the personal contact that may be needed to adequately assess a person’s physical or mental disability.  Having a hearing in front of an ALJ, may be beneficial when it comes to the need for credibility and allowing closer physical observation.  The ALJ may take into consideration any objections that you may have to a video hearing.   

Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis has experience in representing clients at hearings in front of a Social Security Administrative Law Judge in person and video hearings.  If you have any questions regarding the Social Security disability claims process, contact Scott Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888.

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