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Feb 26, 2010

Change In Policy Or Just A Mistake?

I had earlier posted a copy of the language of an agreement that Social Security was requiring when an attorney or other representative uses his or her own videoconference facilities to participate in Social Security hearings. This agreement required that the claimant and attorney or other representative be in the same location for a hearing.

I have heard of a recent instance where a video hearing was held with the ALJ in one location, the claimant in another location and the attorney in his office participating using his firm's equipment. A split screen was used. Was this allowed by mistake or has there been some change in Social Security's position? Any change on this issue would have major implications.

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  • 6 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Stupid. Courts routinely hold video arraignments with the Judge and Attorney in the courtroom and the defendant in a jail cell. The Administrations reasoning is so completely flawed you've gotta wonder who comes up with this nonsense. Really, whose making these calls? Obviously it's someone with little to no experience.

    9:56 AM, February 26, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Not a mistake.

    VTC reg and Hallex are very flexible. "One or more participant" can appear by VTC. It can be claimant or rep, and nothing bars it from being both. The ALJ just has to agree there's good cause.

    I've done split-screen a few times. I've even appeared in the ALJ's office before, while my client from a *very* rural area appeared at a local FO or DDS.

    But unless the client is violent or dangerous or has an extremely contagious, airborne disease... why would you *want* to appear from a different location?

    Body language and facial expressions are totally lost over the VTC. It's really a poor quality linkage.

    10:41 AM, February 26, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "But unless the client is violent or dangerous or has an extremely contagious, airborne disease... why would you *want* to appear from a different location?"

    Some representatives want to appear from a different location because they advertise nationally and don't want to travel to where their clients are. They used to parachute in the day of the hearing and introduce themselves to their clients minutes before the hearing started. Now, they don't even have to do that!

    3:38 PM, February 26, 2010  
    Blogger John R. Heard said...

    I have that agreement somewhere, at least in an earlier version. I clearly recall that it stated that it would be at the discretion of the ALJ to allow a hearing where the lawyer and the claimant were not in the same location. Of course, my memory has been wrong before, but I am pretty sure that is what it said.

    4:56 PM, February 26, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @anon1: An Arraignment is not a trial. Even what you suggest above requires that two of the parties, judge and attorney, are in the same courtroom; typically defendant being arraigned is somewhere close in the county or other jail and the defense attorney has visited with the defendant there. And, criminal Trials require that the defendant be present in the courtroom with his lawyer.

    Social Security Hearings are essentially trials. Thus, the representative at the trial of a party's Social Security case should be where the case is being tried, even if it is at a remote site.

    Or, are you suggesting that the trial of a Social Security matter is no different that the arraingnment of a defendant in a criminal matter? if so, numbers of my clients would probably disagree with you. i don't know any defense lawyer who would ever let his criminal client go to trial while lawyer beamed in via video.

    I don't think the policy is stupid at all.

    5:40 PM, February 26, 2010  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well anon5, an arraignment is certainly not a trial but your suggestion that an SSA HEARING is akin to a trial is absurd. It's a hearing and an arraignment is a hearing. ,You are insuring the facts of your clients claim is set forth and the ALJ is assessing credibility.

    "i don't know any defense lawyer who would ever let his criminal client go to trial while lawyer beamed in via video" Let's hope not because NO JUDGE would allow it. Do you realize that such would be a violation of the Sixth amendment?

    That's the trouble with ODAR and it appears SSA diability attorneys - you people lose sight of the fact that this is an administrative body, a totally different animal than the civil and criminal courts. Sorry your argument fails.

    8:45 AM, February 27, 2010  

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