Increasingly the Social Security administration is utilizing video conferencing technology to conduct hearings in less urban locations and to ease the current back log. However, the claimant’s have always been given the opportunity to “opt out” of video conferencing if the claimant so desired. SSA is now proposing to eliminate the opt out provision, thereby expanding the use of the program.
Under the proposed rule, claimants would no longer be allowed to opt out of or object to hearings being scheduled, via video conferencing, or (in limited circumstances) by telephone. The rule would apply to all administrative law judge hearings. At Bailey & Galyen we do not automatically oppose video conference hearings, especially in circumstances where it will expedite the client’s hearings. However there are circumstances where a video conference hearings are not beneficial or practical for an individual client.
Witnesses to a hearing, such as medical and vocational experts are also increasingly appearing via video conference or phone. Expert Witnesses, would have similar restrictions: The proposed rule says that “in general, we would schedule witnesses to appear at hearings by VTC or telephone,” though certain exceptions apply. Witness appearing over video or on the telephone can prove problematic as technological challenges can end up delaying previously scheduled hearings. Additionally an increase in video conference hearings can hinder your attorney’s ability to cross examine these potentially vital witnesses.
Bailey & Galyen will continue to monitor the situation and will keep our clients apprised of the their rights as the proposed rule change evolves. Social Security’s rules and regulations are always changing. Now more than ever, if you are hurt, injured, or otherwise unable to work please contact us at Bailey & Galyen for a free social security evaluation and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.