I-2-0-70.Hearing Office Service Area
Last Update: 1/21/20 (Transmittal I-2-229)
Each hearing office (HO) has jurisdiction over a designated geographic area referred to as the HO's “service area.” The HO will generally process all requests for hearing (RH) for claimants residing in that area. In general, hearings will be held within 75 miles of the claimant's residence.
Under certain circumstances, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can reimburse a claimant, representative, or un-subpoenaed witness for travel expenses if the distance between the hearing site and the person's residence or office, whichever he or she travels from, is more than 75 miles. See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-3-13 for more information about reimbursement. For reimbursement issues for a claimant who does not reside in the United States, see HALLEX I-2-0-72 E.
B. Screening the RH to Determine Jurisdiction
When an HO receives an RH, the HO staff will screen the RH to determine if the HO has jurisdiction, i.e., whether the claimant's address is in the geographic area the HO serves. If the HO does not have jurisdiction, the HO staff will forward the RH to the HO that has jurisdiction.
C. Claimant Changes Residences While RH Is Pending
If the claimant changes residences while a RH is pending, and the claimant has objected to appearing by video teleconferencing (VTC), see HALLEX I-2-0-21. If the claimant did not object to appearing by VTC and the claimant notifies SSA of a change in residence address that falls under the jurisdiction of another HO, using the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10 B.1., Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) management, through designated staff, will schedule the claimant's appearance by VTC whenever possible. When OHO management, through designated staff, determines a VTC hearing is not possible and the claimant would need to travel more than 75 miles to a hearing site in the HO's jurisdiction, the Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge (HOCALJ) will determine and arrange any appropriate case transfer.
A change in mailing address is not sufficient to establish a change of residence (e.g., a change of address to a P.O. Box does not establish a change of residence).
OHO management, through designated staff, is not required to develop a residence change issue if the claimant does not submit evidence establishing a change of residence. However, if a change in mailing address suggests that a claimant may need to travel more than 75 miles to the hearing site, OHO management, through designated staff, may contact the claimant or representative to verify the residence address. OHO management, through designated staff, will document the contact on a Report of Contact (form SSA-5002) and associate the document with the file as an exhibit.
D. Claimant Requests Transfer of RH for Reasons Not Related to Change in Residence
If, for reasons other than a change in residence, a claimant requests a change in the place of hearing to a location in another HO's jurisdiction, the ALJ will evaluate the request using the good cause procedures in HALLEX I-2-3-12 C.
OHO management, through designated staff, must determine whether the claimant objected to appearing at a hearing via VTC. If the claimant did not object to appearing in this manner, it may be more efficient in some instances to conduct the hearing via VTC.