In a typical hearing, there are four or five people in a hearing room: the claimant, his/her attorney, the Judge, the Judge’s clerk, and possibly a vocational expert(VE). VTC hearings allow the Judge, the clerk, and typically the VE to be in one location (at one of the several National Hearing Offices), and the claimant and his/her attorney in another location close to the claimant’s home. VTC allows the claimant and other hearing participants to see and hear each other on color monitors. A technician is there to make sure the teleconferencing equipment is connected and working properly. There is an informational bulletin, that can be accessed here.
Typically within a month of filing a Request for Hearing, a claimant will receive a letter from the hearing office detailing VTC hearings and notification the file will be transferred to the national hearing office. This letter is vitally important, as it contains the important form “Objection to Appearing by Video Teleconferencing”. If this form is not signed indicating an objection to appearing for a VTC hearing, the file will be transferred to the National Hearing Office and will be scheduled for a VTC hearing. If the form is signed indicating an objection and returned within 30 days, the file will not be transferred and will take place in front of a live Judge at the local hearing office.
Why Would You Want a VTC Hearing?
The primary benefit to scheduling a VTC hearing is your case may be scheduled sooner. A local office will be subject to its own backlog of cases, and may be behind. Therefore, the VTC hearings may be scheduled faster than in person hearings.
Why Would You OBJECT to a VTC Hearing?
The primary reason to object to a VTC hearing, in the opinion of the author, is that an in-person hearing is more intimate. The hearing rooms are typically small and the judge can really get a feel for you, as opposed to seeing you on a monitor. Credibility is an important aspect to most disability cases, and it is easier for a Judge to assess credibility in-person rather than through a monitor.
Whether or not to object to a VTC hearing may depend on your specific facts and circumstances. If your condition is not easily verified through objective testing, you may wish to go for a live hearing so the Judge can assess your credibility. However, if your condition is well documented and the records clearly reflect your disability, you may wish to opt for a VTC hearing that may be scheduled sooner than an in-person hearing.
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