Technology seems to accelerate at an exponential pace, especially here in the 21st Century, and the efficient utilization of it tends to drive the profits of quite a few businesses. Though the legal system and government entities, apart from military applications anyway, are not generally known for being on the cutting edge of technological advancement, there are still times where tech performs important functions in such areas.
For example, the Social Security Administration, in administering its disability benefits program, makes use of a system of video teleconferencing to make hearings more convenient for applicants. This system allows the applicant to appear before an Administrative Law Judge without being physically present in the ALJ’s courtroom. The applicant can still see and hear the judge and the judge can see and hear the applicant, the applicant’s representative and any witnesses that the applicant may have brought to the hearing. The hearing itself will progress exactly like a hearing where all are present in the courtroom.
Applicants attending a VTC hearing will usually go to a location near the applicant’s home, where a technician for SSA will have set up the equipment necessary for a secure transmission of the hearing. While such remote hearings are not video-recorded, the audio of the proceedings will be recorded, just as it would be under normal circumstances. The advantages of VTC hearings are that the location is often closer to an applicant’s residence than the designated ALJ’s court and that they can usually be scheduled more quickly than the in-person variety. The SSA will determine which hearings are eligible for VTC and will notify an applicant if it plans to schedule a remote hearing. The applicant always has an opportunity to object to the VTC-style hearing, and request an in-person appearance.
People who are disabled such that they have an inability to work often have difficulty moving from place to place or traveling long distances. The option of remote VTC SSDI hearings is therefore especially convenient for many applicants.