The Representative Video Project – helping to reduce SSDI claims backlogs
If you are filing a Social Security disability appeal you may be asked to attend a video hearing with an Administrative Law Judge.
It’s estimated over 6,500 Americans apply for Social Security benefits every day. For the Social Security Administration, processing these applications is a daunting task. One of the biggest issues applicants face is the long wait time between applying for Social Security disability and actually receiving benefits. This is often a time of financial difficulty. Social Security is constantly coming up with innovative and more efficient methods of processing claims, but because of the enormous volume of claims filed every day, there is a backlog of millions of applications to be processed.
At the initial stages, the Social Security Administration prioritizes terminal illness claims and claims that don’t require much processing.
However, claims that require further investigation often take longer to process. Some applicants will end up having to go to a hearing before a judge who will evaluate the medical evidence to decide whether or not the applicant is disabled.
There about 1,600 Administrative Law Judges across about 160 offices.
This is not enough to cover the current caseload. As early as 1996, the Social Security Administration began to use video conferencing to allow ALJs to conduct hearings remotely. At the beginning of the initiative, technical issues limited widespread use of video conferencing. In September 2008, the SSA initiated the Representative Video Project in order to expand the use of video technology.
The Representative Video Project allowed the ALJ to conduct SSDI hearings in their office with the representative and claimant in the representative’s office.
This allowed overburdened offices to share their workload with less busy offices, and helps rural applicants who may not live near a hearing office. Today, some offices now conduct all or nearly all of their hearings remotely.
The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) has three different types of video conference room.
The video conference set up is either a permanent conference room with a 60-inch wall-mounted television; a mobile cart system with a similar screen, or a desktop video unit for use in an ALJ’s office rather than a conference room. The desktop video units are becoming increasingly popular as they allow hearings from the ALJ’s desk rather than a conference room.
It is clear that video conferencing has helped ALJs become more efficient.
100% of ODAR representative surveyed agree that video hearings help reduce backlogs. There have been numerous changes to how claims are processed beyond video hearings, so it is difficult to tell how much video hearings specifically have improved the process. By some estimates, however, reduced travel expenditures and more efficient hearings have saved the Social Security Administration nearly $60 million.
A video hearing is slightly different from an in person hearing.
Some disability attorneys believe an in person hearing is the best way to demonstrate an applicant’s disability. However, other lawyers think that video hearings are a great convenience, especially for claimants with limited mobility. If you are asked to participate in a video hearing, the rules are essentially the same: bring your id, dress respectfully, and be honest and accurate with your statements.
If you are a Social Security disability applicant, and you are facing a video hearing, you may be worried about the outcome. Often the hearing comes at the end of months or even years of waiting. Having a representative with you can greatly increase your chances of success. The Social Security Disability attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed have experience with these hearings and are able to help you present your claim. Contact our office today for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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