Winning Social Security disability benefits has always been a long and difficult journey.  In recent years, because of a backlog of hundreds of thousands of disability cases, wait times have gotten longer and longer for disabled Americans. In an effort to reduce the backlog Social Security is conducting some hearings via video teleconference. If you participate in a video hearing you and your attorney show up at a specified location near where you live and the Administrative Law Judge who will be deciding your case is in some other location and appears remotely on a TV screen.

But the question is: Should you participate in a video hearing?  Social Security regulations give you the absolute right to an in-person hearing. Our recommendation is to always exercise your right and choose the in-person hearing. Here’s why:

In large part, disability cases hinge on your credibility. It is our experience that it is easier for the judge to assess your credibility and sincerity in person, face-to-face, rather than through a television screen. Also, it is easier to read body language and pick up on nuances in-person rather than through camera shots transmitted to a screen. For these reasons you have a better chance of being approved for benefits through an in-person hearing. Government statistics bear this out. A higher percentage of claimants are approved at in-person hearings compared to video hearings.

Another frequent problem is technical difficulties which plague video conference hearings. Blurry video, audio delays, power interruptions, and all kinds of other technical glitches are common at video hearings. Murphy’s Law still rules.

One downside to exercising your right to refuse a video hearing is that it will almost certainly cause a scheduling delay of anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.  For this reason, we advise that if you're going to object to a video hearing, do so just as soon as you can, which is usually after you've received a Notice of Hearing which will specify if the judge plans on conducting a video hearing.

Getting you prepared for your hearing is just one part of what we do at Cuddigan Law when we represent you.  At Cuddigan Law you have a dedicated team of professionals in your corner who understand the system and who will fight for your rights. Call us for a free evaluation of your situation.



Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska