One of the first forms you will get in the mail is a form asking if you consent to a video teleconference (VTC) rather than seeing a judge in person. If you do not object to a VTC, it’s possible that your hearing will be on a video screen with a judge halfway across the country. When you get this form, it is your only chance to object. You cannot wait until the hearing is scheduled to object so you’ll want to act quickly on this form if you do not want a VTC.
Social Security is using VTCs to shorten the time it takes to get a hearing at busier hearing offices. Some hearing offices aren’t as far behind as others so agreeing to a VTC could speed up the time it takes to get a hearing scheduled. The VTC seems like a good idea. The problem is that not all hearing offices are the same.
Some hearing offices are filled with judges who approve a much lower percentage of cases than others and you won’t know where the case is going to get transferred until after you agree to the VTC. When Social Security first started sending out letters asking if we objected to VTCs, I saw no reason to object. Then, Social Security sent a bunch of my cases to an office that was approving cases at a rate 20 percent below the national average. I immediately told all my clients to object to VTCs. It’s possible you’ll get a great judge with the VTC, but you just need to play the percentages. If your case is assigned to a hearing office near the national average for approving cases, you should object to the VTC to avoid the risk of your case getting transferred to an office with a below average approval rate. I also truly believe that judges are more sympathetic to claimants when they are forced to sit in the same room with them. For this reason, you should sending the form back objecting to the VTC.