§ 416.1436. Time and place for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

(a) General. We may set the time and place for any hearing. We may change the time and place, if it is necessary. After sending you reasonable notice of the proposed action, the administrative law judge may adjourn or postpone the hearing or reopen it to receive additional evidence any time before he or she notifies you of a hearing decision.

(b) Where we hold hearings. We hold hearings in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. The “place” of the hearing is the hearing office or other site(s) at which you and any other parties to the hearing are located when you make your appearance(s) before the administrative law judge, whether in person, by video teleconferencing, or by telephone.

(c) Determination how appearances will be made. In setting the time and place of the hearing, we will consider the following:

(1) We will consult with the administrative law judge to determine the status of case preparation and to determine whether your appearance, or the appearance of any other party to the hearing, will be made in person, by video teleconferencing or, under extraordinary circumstances, by telephone. The administrative law judge will determine that your appearance, or the appearance of any other party to the hearing, be conducted by video teleconferencing if video teleconferencing equipment is available to conduct the appearance, use of video teleconferencing to conduct the appearance would be more efficient than conducting the appearance in person, and the administrative law judge determines there is no circumstance in the particular case that prevents the use of video teleconferencing to conduct the appearance. The administrative law judge will direct you or another party to the hearing to appear by telephone when:

(i) An appearance in person is not possible, such as if you are incarcerated, the facility will not allow a hearing to be held at the facility, and video teleconferencing is not available; or

(ii) The administrative law judge determines, either on his or her own, or at your request or at the request of any other party to the hearing, that extraordinary circumstances prevent you or another party to the hearing from appearing at the hearing in person or by video teleconferencing.

(2) The administrative law judge will determine whether any person, other than you or any other party to the hearing, including a medical expert or a vocational expert, will appear at the hearing in person, by video teleconferencing, or by telephone. If you or any other party to the hearing objects to any other person appearing by video teleconferencing or by telephone, the administrative law judge will decide, either in writing or at the hearing, whether to have that person appear in person, by video teleconferencing, or by telephone. The administrative law judge will direct a person, other than you or any other party to the hearing if we are notified as provided in paragraph (e) of this section that you or any other party to the hearing objects to appearing by video teleconferencing, to appear by video teleconferencing or telephone when the administrative law judge determines:

(i) Video teleconferencing or telephone equipment is available,

(ii) Use of video teleconferencing or telephone equipment would be more efficient than conducting an examination of a witness in person, and

(iii) The administrative law judge determines there is no other reason why video teleconferencing or telephone should not be used.

(d) Objecting to appearing by video teleconferencing. Prior to scheduling your hearing, we will notify you that we may schedule you to appear by video teleconferencing. If you object to appearing by video teleconferencing, you must notify us in writing within 30 days after the date you receive the notice. If you notify us within that time period and your residence does not change while your request for hearing is pending, we will set your hearing for a time and place at which you may make your appearance before the administrative law judge in person.

(1) Notwithstanding any objections you may have to appearing by video teleconferencing, if you change your residence while your request for hearing is pending, we may determine how you will appear, including by video teleconferencing, as provided in paragraph (c)(1) of this section. For us to consider your change of residence when we schedule your hearing, you must submit evidence verifying your new residence.

(2) If you notify us that you object to appearing by video teleconferencing more than 30 days after the date you receive our notice, we will extend the time period if you show you had good cause for missing the deadline. To determine whether good cause exists for extending the deadline, we use the standards explained in § 416.1411.

(e) Objecting to the time or place of the hearing. If you object to the time or place of your hearing, you must:

(1) Notify us in writing at the earliest possible opportunity, but not later than 5 days before the date set for the hearing or 30 days after receiving notice of the hearing, whichever is earlier (or within the extended time period if we extend the time as provided in paragraph (e)(3) of this section); and

(2) State the reason(s) for your objection and state the time and place you want the hearing to be held. We will change the time or place of the hearing if the administrative law judge finds you have good cause, as determined under paragraph (f) of this section. Section 416.1438 provides procedures we will follow when you do not respond to a notice of hearing.

(3) If you notify us that you object to the time or place of hearing less than 5 days before the date set for the hearing or, if earlier, more than 30 days after receiving notice of the hearing, we will extend the time period if you show you had good cause for missing the deadline. To determine whether good cause exists for extending the deadline, we use the standards explained in § 416.1411.

(f) Good cause for changing the time or place. The administrative law judge will determine whether good cause exists for changing the time or place of your scheduled hearing. However, a finding that good cause exists to reschedule the time or place of your hearing will not change the assignment of the administrative law judge for your case, unless we determine reassignment will promote more efficient administration of the hearing process.

(1) We will reschedule your hearing, if your reason is one of the following circumstances and is supported by the evidence:

(i) A serious physical or mental condition or incapacitating injury makes it impossible for you or your representative to travel to the hearing, or a death in the family occurs; or

(ii) Severe weather conditions make it impossible for you or your representative to travel to the hearing.

(2) In determining whether good cause exists in circumstances other than those set out in paragraph (f)(1) of this section, the administrative law judge will consider your reason(s) for requesting the change, the facts supporting it, and the impact of the proposed change on the efficient administration of the hearing process. Factors affecting the impact of the change include, but are not limited to, the effect on the processing of other scheduled hearings, delays that might occur in rescheduling your hearing, and whether we previously granted you any changes in the time or place of your hearing. Examples of such other circumstances that you might give for requesting a change in the time or place of the hearing include, but are not limited to, the following:

(i) You unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a representative and need additional time to secure representation;

(ii) Your representative was appointed within 30 days of the scheduled hearing and needs additional time to prepare for the hearing;

(iii) Your representative has a prior commitment to be in court or at another administrative hearing on the date scheduled for the hearing;

(iv) A witness who will testify to facts material to your case would be unavailable to attend the scheduled hearing and the evidence cannot be otherwise obtained;

(v) Transportation is not readily available for you to travel to the hearing; or

(vi) You are unrepresented, and you are unable to respond to the notice of hearing because of any physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitations (including any lack of facility with the English language) which you may have.

(g) Good cause in other circumstances. In determining whether good cause exists in circumstances other than those set out in paragraph (e) of this section, the administrative law judge will consider your reason for requesting the change, the facts supporting it, and the impact of the proposed change on the efficient administration of the hearing process. Factors affecting the impact of the change include, but are not limited to, the effect on the processing of other scheduled hearings, delays which might occur in rescheduling your hearing, and whether any prior changes were granted to you. Examples of such other circumstances, which you might give for requesting a change in the time or place of the hearing, include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) You have attempted to obtain a representative but need additional time;

(2) Your representative was appointed within 30 days of the scheduled hearing and needs additional time to prepare for the hearing;

(3) Your representative has a prior commitment to be in court or at another administrative hearing on the date scheduled for the hearing;

(4) A witness who will testify to facts material to your case would be unavailable to attend the scheduled hearing and the evidence cannot be otherwise obtained;

(5) Transportation is not readily available for you to travel to the hearing;

(6) You live closer to another hearing site; or

(7) You are unrepresented, and you are unable to respond to the notice of hearing because of any physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitations (including any lack of facility with the English language) which you may have.

(h) Consultation procedures. Before we exercise the authority to set the time and place for an administrative law judge's hearings, we will consult with the appropriate hearing office chief administrative law judge to determine if there are any reasons why we should not set the time and place of the administrative law judge's hearings. If the hearing office chief administrative law judge does not state a reason that we believe justifies the limited number of hearings scheduled by the administrative law judge, we will then consult with the administrative law judge before deciding whether to begin to exercise our authority to set the time and place for the administrative law judge's hearings. If the hearing office chief administrative law judge states a reason that we believe justifies the limited number of hearings scheduled by the administrative law judge, we will not exercise our authority to set the time and place for the administrative law judge's hearings. We will work with the hearing office chief administrative law judge to identify those circumstances where we can assist the administrative law judge and address any impediment that may affect the scheduling of hearings.

(i) Pilot program. The provisions of the first and second sentences of paragraph (a), the first sentence of paragraph (c)(1), and paragraph (g) of this section are a pilot program. These provisions will no longer be effective on August 12, 2016, unless we terminate them earlier or extend them beyond that date by notice of a final rule in the Federal Register.

[68 FR 5220, Feb. 3, 2003, as amended at 75 FR 39161, July 8, 2010; 78 FR 29628, May 21, 2013; 78 FR 45452, July 29, 2013; 79 FR 35933, June 25, 2014; 79 FR 41883, July 18, 2014; 80 FR 37971, July 2, 2015]