Since March of 2020, the Social Security Administration has been offering applicants the opportunity to have their Administrative Law Hearings appeal hearings remotely. Initially, this was solely due to the dangers posed by COVID-19 to SSA staff as well as the many applicants with compromised immune systems. Now, the SSA continues to offer applicants the ability to have their hearing in person, remotely via video or on the phone.
How can this affect my hearing?
There are pros and cons to having your hearing on video or over the phone, which can be strategic to your case overall. This depends a lot on your specific situation and how your disability manifests itself.
Video hearings let your judge see your disability
If you have a very physical disability that severely limits your ability to move, causes significant pain, or otherwise visually manifests itself, then it can help the judge greatly if they see you on video. Watching how your disability impacts you during your hearing can help them to support your disability because they can see the evidence in front of them.
There is no guarantee that your judge will rule in favor of your disability because they can see you, however, it can in some cases be the extra evidence they need to support their findings. It can also create a ground for appeal if your judge ignored part of your condition that was visible during the hearing.
Phone hearings can be more comfortable for you
By contrast to a video hearing, a phone hearing will let you speak at your hearing without the judge seeing you or your location. If you have a disability that is not as visual, it can be beneficial to select a phone hearing so that judge can assess you based on your testimony and medical records, rather than drawing their own conclusions from your appearance.
Especially in cases involving psychological disabilities, a phone hearing can be more comfortable for you because it is much less pressure, and you have greater control over your environment so you can be comfortable during the hearing.
You and your attorney can decide which option is best for you
It can be difficult to know whether a video or a phone hearing is better for you, so it is important that you sit down with your attorney and discuss which one is best for you.