If you have requested or are planning to request a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) hearing in Atlanta, you may wonder whether it is better to attend through a video conference or in person. There are advantages and disadvantages with either option, so it may be best to discuss this question with an experienced hearing claims advocate to determine which choice makes the most sense in your situation.
Even if the Social Security Administration (SSA) has already assigned you to a video hearing, you maintain the right to request an in-person hearing. After considering the pros and cons of an Atlanta SSDI video hearing versus in-person hearing, you should let the SSA know your preference as soon as possible.
The SSA’s Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) manages the hearing process associated with SSDI claims. The OHO directs over 1,500 Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) who conduct hearings all around the country.
While the agency has 164 Hearing Offices and two Satellite Hearing Offices, SSA may also conduct in-person hearings and video hearings at other locations. Atlanta is the headquarters for SSA Region 4, and there are two hearing offices that service the area.
During a video hearing, sometimes referred to as a video teleconference, the claimant and their attorney or other representative appear at a field office specified by SSA. The ALJ who is hearing the case would communicate through a video screen from a different location.
Additionally, video hearings are often easier to schedule. As a result, an applicant for SSDI benefits may be able to have their case heard through a video hearing in Atlanta very soon after requesting as opposed to waiting for an in-person hearing.
A video hearing may also be scheduled at a more convenient time and location for the claimant, reducing the time and expense of travel. Some applicants find the video hearing process less intimidating than an in-person hearing before an ALJ.
However, it may be more difficult for a judge to assess a claimant’s credibility or the extent of their disability through the limited view of a camera lens. The video hearing process does not allow for face-to-face contact, which can be critical in establishing trust and assessing the severity of an impairment.
The rules and procedures are the same regardless of whether an SSDI hearing is conducted in-person or via teleconference. If you have been assigned to a video teleconference but requested an in-person hearing, the SSA will try to assign the same ALJ who would have otherwise listened to your case via video call. This is designed to prevent applicants from “shopping around” to get the judge they think will be more disposed to rule favorably on their appeal.
If you want an in-person hearing but are concerned about travel costs, you should be aware that you may request reimbursement for travel expenses if you live 75 miles or more from the hearing office. Each case comes with different considerations, so it is wise to discuss the differences between Atlanta SSDI video hearings versus in-person hearings with an attorney who has represented clients in both environments. Call our intake team today for more information.