I-2-0-15.Hearing by Video Teleconferencing or Telephone- Overview
Last Update: 8/29/14 (Transmittal I-2-115)
An administrative law judge (ALJ) 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. The ALJ will evaluate the request using the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10 A.1.
B. Scheduling Appearance by VTC - Overview
Hearing office (HO) 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 does not want to appear by VTC, the claimant must object in writing within 30 days after he or she receives the notice, or establish good cause for filing a late objection. For acknowledgement procedures, see HALLEX I-2-0-20 and I-2-0-21.
As any claimant could be scheduled for a hearing by VTC, the HO 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 ALJ in person. However, if the claimant objects within the 30-day timeframe but changes residences, the ALJ will use the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10 A.1. to determine how the claimant appears 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-2-0-20, 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 for the untimely filing. 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.
An ALJ will determine whether the claimant will appear by VTC using the procedures in HALLEX I-2-3-10.
When an ALJ determines that the claimant will appear by VTC, the ALJ 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
An ALJ will only direct a claimant or other party to the hearing appear by telephone when an appearance in person or by VTC is not possible, or when extraordinary circumstances prevent the claimant or other party to the hearing from appearing at the hearing 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, the claimant is not given an opportunity to object to this manner of appearance. See HALLEX I-2-3-11.
Extraordinary circumstances do not exist when appearing by telephone would merely be more convenient to the claimant, appointed representative, or both.
Whether an ALJ directs or a claimant requests a telephone appearance, the claimant must be notified of the manner of appearance in the notice of hearing. See HALLEX I-2-3-15.