The Social Security Administration published a notice on November 15th that they propose to enter a rule regarding the appearance of Claimants and Representatives at Social Security hearings. Currently, SSA allows you to decide whether you wish to appear in person or by video hearing. They are proposing to do away with this option. This change would affect all Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings and any hearings with Disability Hearing Officers on continuing disability claims.
The proposed ruling notes that the agency will decide on the location and form of the hearing rather than the ALJ's themselves. SSA has faced space and technical challenges with video hearings ever since video hearings were originally implemented. This proposed rule would also affect witnesses such as medical and vocational experts. Many medical experts already appear by telephone, but now would potentially have vocational experts appear by telephone or video also. Our firm's policy is that we opt for an in person hearing whenever it is available.
The second part of the proposed rule would affect the notices SSA provides to Claimants regarding their hearing. Currently, SSA is required to give a 75 day notice of a scheduled hearing. The proposed ruling would still require the 75 days notice be sent out before a scheduled hearing, but should there be any changes to the time and place of the hearing, a new notice can be sent out within 20 days of the new hearing date. This is especially troubling for the current five day rule requirements for records to be sent into the hearing offices, and the rule requiring 10 days notice on subpoenas.
We here at Gardberg and Kemmerly specialize in disability claims and are watching all new rulings closely. If you have a claim for disability and need assistance please call our office at 251-343-1111 for a free consultation on your VA and/or SSA claim. Gardberg & Kemmerly specializes in helping the injured and disabled in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana.