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There are advantages to an in-person hearing

If you have been denied on a disability reconsideration and have requested, or are about to request a disability hearing, there is the possibility (though slim) that may you end up having your hearing conducted at a site other than a social security hearing video.

Yes, by video. Note: you always the right to decline a video hearing in favor of an in-person hearing, though this may result in a longer time to get a disability hearing date.

On its face, the notion of a video hearing seems to make sense. After all, depending on where you live in your state of residence, getting to a hearing may be difficult if you live very far away (even in North Carolina, it's been the case that claimants have had to drive as far away as 2 hours to get to a hearing location). Video hearings, whether they're held at a satellite location, or at a disability attorney's office, could "potentially" make things much easier for some claimants.

But easier at what price? Think about it. One of the great advantages of going to a social security disability hearing is that not only will your case be decided by someone other than a disability examiner, and not only will you be allowed to have a representative directly involved, but you'll...actually get to meet the adjudicator on your case.

Disability hearings are very different from initial claims and reconsideration appeals where you never get to meet the decision-maker and you are, basically, just another file that the disability examiner has to deal with in his or her caseload. At hearings, you can be both seen and heard and this facet of the hearing is something that helps to personalize the appeal, making it less likely for the adjudicator to think of you as just another case.

Won't you be seen and heard at a hearing conducted by video? Yes, but will it be the same in a psychological sense? I would contend that not being physically present in the same room as a judge may make it easier for the judge to become more dismissive of a claim, the claimant, and the claimant's disability representative.

Why? Because appearing at a hearing by video puts more distance (literally and figuratively) between the claimant and the disability judge, and the nature and context of that appearance may not be to the claimant's advantage.

As an example of what I mean, consider your own conversations on phones with people you know. You may find yourself saying things over the phone that you wouldn't necessarily say in person. If not that, you might find yourself saying things "differently" than you might say in person; for example, more aggressively, more abruptly, less sympathetic than you might if the person you're speaking to was actually physically in front of you.

I've known many individuals who would rather handle certain "types" of conversation over the phone rather than in person, because its easier. Why is it easier? Because it's more distanced.

In this same sense, video hearings may carry a more "distanced feel" for each disability judge, making it easier for them to be less sympathetic and more dismissive of disability claimants.

As I said, this is purely opinion. However, if given the choice myself, I would always choose an in-person hearing over a video hearing. After all, you wait too long to get to a hearing and too much is at stake to even consider minimizing your chances of winning disability benefits.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Can if I win disability if I file for back problems?
How much SS backpay do you get?
Disability approvals over age 50
How to file for disability in Vermont
What if I move while applying for disability?
Is it easy to get disability?
Is Social Security Disability More Than Social Security Retirement?
Does A Percentage of VA Disability Make You Eligible For Social Security Disability?
Diverticulitis and Filing for Disability
Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
Anxiety Disorder and Filing for Disability
Medical Evidence on a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim
What to bring to a disability interview when you apply
Social Security Disability SSI reviews
What does Social Security Disability SSI pay, how much?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Social Security Disability attorneys and representatives
What is the status of your social security disability or SSI case
Rules and requirements to apply for disability
Will I qualify for disability?
Apply for disability for any medical condition
Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing
If your disability claim is approved or denied
Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
Social Security Disability SSI reviews
How social security evaluates attention deficit
Filing for disability with Post polio syndrome
Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How far back Social Security will pay SSDI or SSI
SSI award notices are received by approved claimants
Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
Can you work if you get Disability?
Who qualifies for SSI and how
How to file for disability and where to apply
Conditions that may qualify as disability
Denied on a disability application
Answering questions at a Social Security Disability hearing