The Social Security Administration (SSA) is increasingly holding disability hearings via video conference. Claimants must object to the video conference within 30 days of receipt of notice.

I have mixed feelings about video conferences. I support SSA’s efforts to increase efficiency and reduce the time it takes to get a hearing before a disability judge (ALJ). Further, I have not noticed a higher denial rate in the cases I present via video conference versus an in person hearing. Moreover, usually the video hearing site is closer to where the claimant lives.

I have three concerns about video hearings. First, in about 10% of my cases it is essential that the ALJ see my client in person in order to fully understand the medical issues. Second, in the last year all of my video hearings have been scheduled with the National Hearing Center in St. Louis. I prefer NC ODARs because the ALJs are older and more experienced. Third, video hearings are usually held by out of state ALJs who I have never met. It is more difficult to present a case to an ALJ whose attitudes and style I know nothing about.

Given the pros and cons, I do not have a hard and fast rule on whether to object to a video hearing. Each client must be decide what is best in light of his or her circumstances.