I-2-0-15.Hearing by Video Teleconferencing or Telephone- Overview
Last Update: 1/21/20 (Transmittal I-2-229)
Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) management, through designated staff, determines whether a claimant or any other party to the hearing will appear at the hearing in person, by video teleconferencing (VTC), or, in extraordinary circumstances, by telephone. See 20 CFR 404.936(c) and 416.1436(c). See also Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-3-10.
A claimant may also request to appear at the hearing by VTC or telephone. OHO management, through designated staff, will evaluate a request to appear by VTC using the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10 B.1. The Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge (HOCALJ), or his/her designee, will evaluate a request to appear by telephone using the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10 B.1.b.
B. Scheduling Appearance by VTC - Overview
OHO management, through designated staff, will notify a claimant in the acknowledgement of a request for hearing that he or she may be scheduled to appear at the hearing by VTC. The notice will also inform the claimant that if he or she objects to appearing by VTC, he or she must notify us in writing within 30 days after he or she receives the notice. If the claimant misses this deadline, OHO management, through designated staff, will extend the deadline if the claimant shows that he or she had good cause for missing it. See HALLEX I-2-0-20 and I-2-0-21.
As any claimant could be scheduled to appear by VTC, the hearing office will send a copy of the pamphlet, “Why You Should Have Your Hearing by Video” with the acknowledgement of the request for hearing to all claimants.
If a claimant objects to appearing at the hearing by VTC within the 30-day timeframe and does not change residences while the request for hearing is pending, the hearing will be set for a time and place at which the claimant may appear before the administrative law judge (ALJ) in person. However, if the claimant objects within the 30-day timeframe but changes residences while the request for hearing is pending, OHO management, through designated staff, will use the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10 B.1 to determine how the claimant will appear at the hearing, based on the circumstances of the case. For more information about how to handle claimant objections to appearing by VTC, see HALLEX I-2-0-21 and I-2-3-11.
If the claimant does not object within the 30-day timeframe, but later submits an objection to appearing by VTC, the ALJ will evaluate whether the claimant has good cause for the late submission. If there is no evidence in the file indicating the reason for the late filing, the ALJ will send the claimant and representative, if any, a letter requesting an explanation. The ALJ will add the writing and any response to the claim(s) file as exhibits. (The ALJ may elicit responses and rule on the objection on the record at the hearing if there is insufficient time to develop the issue prior to a scheduled hearing. If the claimant does not appear at the scheduled hearing, the ALJ will follow the usual procedures in HALLEX I-2-4-25). In evaluating good cause, the ALJ will use the standards set forth in 20 CFR 404.911 and 416.1411.
OHO management, through designated staff, will determine whether the claimant will appear by VTC using the procedures in HALLEX I-2-3-10.
When OHO management, through designated staff, determines that the claimant will appear by VTC, staff must inform the claimant and appointed representative, if any, in the notice of hearing. For notice of hearing procedures, see HALLEX I-2-3-15.
For general information on hearings by VTC, agency employees can refer to Video Hearings on the intranet.
C. Scheduling Appearance by Telephone
The HOCALJ or his/her designee will only direct a claimant or other party to the hearing to appear by telephone when an appearance in person or by VTC is not possible, or when other extraordinary circumstances prevent the claimant or other party to the hearing from appearing in person or by VTC. Extraordinary circumstances are generally limited to incarceration, institutionalization, natural disasters, or very unusual circumstances directly related to a claimant's impairments. See HALLEX I-2-3-10. Therefore, we do not give the claimant an opportunity to object to this manner of appearance. See HALLEX I-2-3-12.
Extraordinary circumstances do not exist when appearing by telephone would merely be more convenient to the claimant, appointed representative, or both.
If the claimant is incarcerated and VTC is not available, we will schedule the claimant's appearance by telephone, unless we find that there are facts in the particular case that provide a good reason to schedule the claimant's appearance in person if allowed by the place of confinement, or by VTC or in person upon the claimant's release.
Whether the HOCALJ or his/her designee directs or a claimant requests a telephone appearance, the claimant must be notified of this manner of appearance in the notice of hearing. See HALLEX I-2-3-15.