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Brad Thomas Disability PLLC

Understanding Disability Hearings: In-Person, Video Conference, and Teleconference

Let’s talk about what type of hearing to have for your Social Security Disability case.

There’s 3 different options that you have for disability hearings, there are:

1) In person hearings
2) Video conference hearings
3) Telephone conference hearings

I have 3 BIG REASONS why IN PERSON HEARING is my least favorite kind of hearing.
First off, clients testify poorly, or the poorest of the three at this kind of hearings, and I have a theory as to that. For most disability claimants in person hearings requires you to drive to your In person Disability hearing office. For a lot of people, that’s going to be a 30 minute to an hour drive, which for a lot of disability claimants is going to be painful for them. Most likely, it’s going to be in a downtown area. So you’re gonna have to find parking downtown, walk to the building that your disability hearings at, find the disability office located inside that building, which is oftentimes very hard. You have to get searched by a security guard, you’re going to be in unfamiliar surroundings, you probably have to get up early to go. And so this is a tremendous mental drain for people who are already not feeling well and have a lot on their plates.

I’ve noticed that whenever people are testifying from home, they’re a lot more comfortable, they’re a lot more relaxed, and they haven’t had to go through this arduous process. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like in person.

The second reason is, things just go wrong at in person hearings. For example, if a client has back problems, and is only able to sit down for short periods of time, and their testimony is “I can only sit for 30 minutes, 15 minute intervals in an office chair” during their disability hearing. and they’ll forget to stand up or need to stand up or say that they’re uncomfortable. And so their testimonies, they can only sit for 15 to 30 minutes, they just get scared in the moment. And then so they won’t ask to stand up whenever they need to. And the judges, they’re evaluating the credibility and it’s just “Well, okay, well, he’s telling me one thing, but visibly, he sat in that chair the whole time.” You talk to the clients after the hearing, and they’ll say they were scared, they didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the hearing, but it was inconsistent with their testimony. And so it’s a bad look. Or things like client will say, “I can’t lift my arm over my head” and they’ll show the judge how far they can lift it over their head, but they can lift it over their head, they couldn’t lift it over their head, of course, numerous times throughout a day, but in demonstrating to the judge clients shoot themselves in the foot. Or often than not, sometimes clients will forget their assistive devices, a walker or a cane, a crutch, a knee brace, back brace. If you don’t show up with those things to the Disability hearing, the judge is going to assume you don’t need them.

All those types of issues go wrong. There’s other stuff that I’m forgetting, but it can get hectic.

And lastly, it’s about the judges to I’ve got to guess that the judges are more relaxed and happy if they’re in their homes, conducting a Disability hearing, as opposed to having to drive to the office and throw on the old robe. And so a happy judge is a granting judge. And so we want them comfortable as well.

Those are the three big reasons why I don’t like the in person hearings.

For VIDEO CONFERENCE HEARING. They’re not as bad. I just as don’t really do them anymore. Just because they have the same problems with in person hearings as things going wrong with demonstrating or not standing up. Whenever you testified, you have trouble sitting for long periods of time. And then technical difficulties occur. Not all clients have video software. So it’s categorically my office tries to do everything as a phone conference hearing.

Lastly, PHONE CONFERENCE HEARING, things just go smoothly with them. The clients testify well. Judges seem to like them just fine. haven’t noticed anything with judges just liking or discriminating against phone conference hearings. And I understand the concern that you want the judge to be able to see you and see your condition. But really a proofs in your medical records. You can’t really win your case with testimony at the hearing. I don’t think that the credibility arguments are meaningful in that the judge can still assess your credibility over the phone. They’re just looking for consistency with the medical records or they might have questions about things that weren’t clear to them based on the reading of the record. But it’s not going to be “Well oh gosh, really? This guy didn’t have the medical from the file. But did you see how he dragged his leg as he walked in the hearing?

Disability judges just don’t operate like that.


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