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SSA Wants To Limit Your Right To An In Person Hearing

For a number of years, the SSA has been moving toward a video/telephone format for claimant. What this means is that even though you, the claimant, may be required to appear at a hearing – the judge may be on a video screen and the witnesses who are testifying about your case are on the phone.  As attorneys who represent Social Security Disability claimants, we believe it is our client’s right to appear in front of a judge who is in the court room. We also believe it is the client’s right to cross-examine witnesses in person. The SSA may think moving toward video hearings is more efficient, but is also impersonal. Below, you will find the Notice of a Proposed Rule that has been issued by the SSA. When you read the proposed rule you will see that the SSA wants to make it impossible for you to opt out of appearing before a judge and witnesses who are in the courtroom. 

Notice of Proposed RulemakingSetting the Manner for the Appearance of Parties and Witnesses at a Hearing (Nov. 15, 2018)
Summary: We propose to revise our rules to explain that the agency retains the right to determine how parties and witnesses will appear at a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the hearing level of our administrative review process, and we will set the time and place for the hearing accordingly. We also propose to revise our rules to explain the State agency or the Associate Commissioner for Disability Determinations, or his or her delegate, will determine how parties and witnesses will appear, and will set the time and place for a hearing, before a disability hearing officer (DHO) at the reconsideration level in continuing disability review (CDR) cases. At both levels, we propose to schedule the parties to a hearing to appear by video teleconference (VTC), in person, or, in limited circumstances, by telephone. We propose that parties to a hearing will not have the option to opt out of appearing by the manner of hearing we choose. We also propose rules that explain how we will determine the manner of a party’s or a witness’s appearance. We expect these proposed changes would improve our service to the public by increasing the efficiency of our hearings processes and reducing the amount of time it takes us to schedule and hold hearings.

​If you think it is unfair of the SSA to take away your choice of having an in person hearing, contact your local Congressman and ask for your right to a fair hearing.

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