Dec 18, 2008

Video Hearings From Representatives Offices -- Claimant Must Be There

Social Security is making extensive use of video hearings. Recently, Social Security has begun experimenting with allowing attorneys and other representatives to do video hearings through their own equipment. I have been concerned that an attorney or other representative could appear via video without ever meeting their client in person, even on the day of the hearing. There is too much substandard representation already. Social Security should not be aiding those who engage in this.

I have recently obtained from Social Security a copy of the agreement that the agency is having those participating in this experiment sign. Here is an excerpt, making it clear that Social Security wishes to make this impossible:
The claimant and his or her representative must both appear from the same representative-owned VTC [Video Tele-Conference] site, except in instances where the ALJ determines that it is in the best interests of the claimant to penmit the claimant and his or her representative to appear from separate locations. Examples of such exceptions would be when the claimant lives in a remote area and there is limited access to representation within the standard 75 mile commuting area, or the claimant moves to a different area of the country but wishes to keep a representative with whom there is an existing business relationship. Please note that any and all non-SSA locations being used for a multi-point connection must be certified as a representative-owned VTC site and otherwise meet all the requirements for this program.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with your assumption that not meeting a client in person automatically constitutes substandard representation. We have many clients who prefer not to come to our office either due to having no transportation or because they have a mental impairment that makes travel difficult/uncomfortable for them. We spend more phone time with those clients and work just as hard on their cases as we do any other client.

Anonymous said...

Should be an excellent way to lower the backlog.