When Social Security first started offering video hearings for disability claims, I uniformly objected. My concerns at the time had to do with not knowing the judge who would hear the case. I was also concerned that video hearings would lead to higher denial rates. I decided last summer, however, that objecting to video hearings was not productive. This was due to the fact that people who did object to video hearings had to wait much longer for Social Security to schedule their days in court.
I have now had the opportunity to do many video hearings. Based on what I have experienced so far, I think there is no reason to uniformly reject doing hearings via video. It turns out, the process, and the results, are pretty much in line with doing hearings live.
Many Concerns Prove Unfounded
Some of my specific concerns have been allayed. My primary fear was not knowing the judges. But, in doing video hearings, I am seeing the same small group of judges most of the time. This allows me to get to know them. I can develop a sense of how these judges like to conduct hearings. At the same time, the judges can get accustomed to me. I trust that this will allow me to build up good will with them, which is very important.
Video May Not Be The Best Choice For Some Cases
There may still be specific cases where video hearings are not the best choice. These would probably involve cases where the judge's perception of the claimant is critical. I could see this being a bigger issue in mental health cases, for example, where a claimant's appearance and behavior could send subtle clues that video does not pick up.
It's The Prehearing Preparation That Tells The Tale
For most cases, however, it appears that video hearings are as good as live ones. Winning or losing still depends on preparing
the case properly before seeing a judge. With the proper groundwork done, a case should have the same chance if the judge is in the room or across the country.
Let me know your thoughts about video hearings. Have you had one? What was the result? Would you recommend it?