SSA recently began sending out a mass form letter to everyone awaiting a hearing asking if they will agree to participate in a Hearing by Video Conference.
The Office of Hearing Disability Adjudication and Review is the branch of SSA where hearings are held. Currently it is taking around 12 months to get your case heard by a Judge after you file the appeal. In order to help decrease the wait time, Judges from other offices are being asked to hold hearings for the busier offices. Rather than fly the Judge out to the other office, SSA has installed high tech televisions, cameras and video conferencing equipment in all of their offices so that the claimant applying for disability can go to their local office, and have their case heard by a Judge in another office.
Whether or not this actually speeds up the process remains to be seen. SSA has been using Video Conferencing for years for more remote claimants without much improvement. SSA is trying to be more proactive to decrease the backlog of people waiting a year or more to have a hearing.
Some people do not mind holding hearings over the television, while others feel something is lost if you cannot look the Judge in the face or be in the same room as they are. Although generally, I do not mind Video Hearings, I have been to some where the equipment did not work as it should and things were hard to hear or were lost over the connection. This makes it harder for the claimant to have a fair hearing and for the Judge to be able to fully evaluate the claim.
It is a personal choice each person can make for themselves. If it really were going to speed up the hearing and get you before a Judge months faster, that might make the difference and save someone’s home or life and it would be worth it. But the increase in processing speed is still up for debate, so right now I am leaving it up to each claimant to chose based on their personal preferences.