Saturday, October 31, 2009

Social Security Disability Video Hearings

I've never cared for the idea of social security disability hearings done by video. If you're not familiar with the concept, it simply means what the phrase implies. You and your disability attorney or non-attorney claimant's representative are in one location and the administrative law judge, the individual who evaluates your claim at the hearing level and makes the decision as to whether or not you will be awarded disability, is at another location. Your means of communicating is via video conferencing.

Why do I dislike even the idea of a hearing conducted in this fashion? Well, as I indicated in a prior posting (written on October 05, 2008 and titled Social Security Disability Video Hearings, a good idea?), you give up a psychological advantage that is embedded in the nature of hearings. The hearing is, of course, the only appeal level at which you, the applicant for disability benefits, can actually meet the decision-maker.

A posting by Lew Insler, a disability attorney in Pennsylvania, seems to hold similar sentiments about video disability hearings. Insler points out his belief that it is easier for a judge to deny the case of a claimant he or she never met. And from my perspective, this is why, to some extent, it is easier for disability examiners to routinely deny cases, even routinely deny strong cases, without batting an eye. They never meet the claimants whose cases they decide the outcomes for. And, basically, claimants simply become files and processing statistics.

The same goes for DDS (disability determination services, the state-level agency that handles disability determinations for social security disability and SSI disability claims) medical consultants. These physicians, who work in conjunction with disability examiners to decide cases, never meet claimants; yet, they provide opinions that direct how claims are decided. I think, this "distanced" aspect" plays a part in how easy it is for DDS unit medical consultants (aka social security doctors) to routinely assign medium residual functional capacity ratings to so many individuals (the way I see it, most of these doctors barely have a clue as to what fifty pounds feels like--a medium rating involves the ability to lift 50 lbs occasionally).

The nice thing about video hearings, of course, is that you don't have to take one. You have the right to decline a video hearing and the right to be physically present at the social security disability hearing that, perhaps, has taken you two years or longer to get to.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Social Security Back Pay
How to get disability
How Much Can You get in Monthly Social Security Disability Benefits?
Will you get Social Security Disability if you can't do your old job?
How often will social security review my disability claim ? (continuing disability review)
Herniated Disc, Social Security Disability SSI - Applying for Disability
SSI Reconsideration easier than an SSD Reconsideration?
Denial on a disability application - What comes next?
Will I get disability with Bipolar Disorder ?
How does Social Security decide if I am Disabled ?
What is The Chance of Winning an SSA Disability Appeal?



Blogger Dawn said...

Having watched someone close go through a video conferencing hearing, I'd like to share my input. If the judge is coached enough to read the body language and asks the right questions, I don't believe in person or video makes a whole lot of difference.

I watched a judge make my friend VERY uncomfortable with the questions asked--I believe the purpose was to enable the judge to determine if my friend was 'for real' or faking it.

The end result was that my friend's true disability came through in all its glory. Frustrating to my friend, but enabling the judge to provide the disablity.

8:43 AM  

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