I-2-3-12.Objections to Manner of Appearance or Time and Place Set for Hearing

Last Update: 5/1/17 (Transmittal I-2-205)

A. Objections to Manner of Appearance

1. Objections by Claimants to Appearing In Person or by Telephone

An administrative law judge (ALJ) will not offer a claimant the opportunity to object to his or her manner of appearance when the claimant is scheduled to appear at the hearing in person or by telephone.

NOTE:

For telephone hearings, an ALJ does not provide the opportunity to object because the claimant is only directed to appear in that manner in extraordinary circumstances.

If a claimant submits an objection to appearing at hearing in person or by telephone, the ALJ is not required to consider the objection. However, an ALJ may consider an objection to appearing by telephone at his or her discretion.

2. Objections by Claimants to Appearing by Video Teleconferencing (VTC)

A claimant can object to appearing at a hearing by VTC by notifying us in writing within 30 days after the claimant receives our letter acknowledging his or her request for hearing. See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-0-20. Absent a written objection, an ALJ will determine whether a claimant will appear at a hearing by VTC using the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10. When the claimant objects to appearing at a hearing by VTC, the ALJ will follow the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10A1

3. Objections by Claimants to the Manner of Another Person's Appearance at Hearing

A claimant may state objections to the manner of appearance of an expert witness or other person by VTC or telephone, just as he or she may state objections to any other aspect of the hearing. The ALJ will decide, either in writing or at the hearing, whether to grant the objection.

B. Claimant Objects to the Time or Place of the Hearing

For objections to the time or place of hearing, other than appearing at a hearing by VTC (see HALLEX I-2-3-12 A above), a claimant must notify the ALJ of the reasons for the objection, 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 the notice of hearing, whichever is earlier. The claimant must provide the reason(s) for the objection and state the time and place he or she wants the hearing to be held.

NOTE 1:

If the claimant does not object within this timeframe, the ALJ must make a separate finding as to whether good cause exists for missing the deadline using the factors in 20 CFR 404.911 and 416.1411.

NOTE 2:

If a claimant notifies the hearing office (HO) of an objection by telephone, the HO staff will inform the claimant that the regulations require submission of objections in writing by the claimant. Staff will also inform the claimant that unless objections are submitted in writing, the ALJ is not required to consider the reasons for the objection. After the phone call, HO staff will prepare a form SSA-5002, Report of Contact, and associate it with the claim(s) file.

C. Evaluating Whether Good Cause Exists for Objecting to the Time and Place of the Hearing

1. Factors To Consider

In determining whether good cause exists for requesting a change in the time and place of a hearing, the ALJ will consider:

  • The claimant's reason(s) for requesting the change;

  • The facts supporting the request;

  • The effect on the processing of other scheduled hearings;

  • The cost of implementing the change, including travel expenses or expert witness fees;

  • Delays that might occur in rescheduling the hearing; and

  • Whether an ALJ previously granted a change in the time or place of the hearing, and the reasons for granting the prior request.

NOTE:

See the procedures in HALLEX I-2-0-21 if the claimant objected to being scheduled to appear via VTC and changes residences while the request for hearing is pending.

a. When an ALJ Must Find Good Cause

An ALJ must find good cause for changing the time or place of a scheduled hearing if:

  • A serious physical or mental condition or incapacitating injury makes it impossible for the claimant or the claimant's representative to travel to the hearing, or a death in the family occurs; or

  • Severe weather conditions make it impossible to travel to the hearing site.

b. When an ALJ May Find Good Cause

The ALJ may also find good cause for changing the time or place of a scheduled hearing based on other circumstances.

Examples of other circumstances a claimant may give for requesting a change in the time or place of a scheduled hearing are listed in 20 CFR 404.936(f) and 416.1436(f).

NOTE:

A change in residence address may or may not constitute good cause for changing the time or place of the scheduled hearing. See HALLEX I-2-0-70 C when a claimant relocates while a hearing request is pending.

2. ALJ Finds Good Cause To Change the Time or Place of the Hearing

When the ALJ finds that there is good cause to change the time or place of the hearing, the ALJ will reschedule the hearing. The ALJ will notify the claimant and representative of the finding by issuing a new notice of hearing at least 75 days before the hearing. See HALLEX I-2-3-15.

A finding that good cause exists to reschedule the time or place of the hearing will generally not change the assignment of the ALJ for the case. However, if reassignment of the case will promote more efficient administration of the hearing process, the ALJ may consult with the Hearing Office Chief ALJ regarding possible reassignment.

3. ALJ Does Not Find That There Is Good Cause To Change the Time or Place of the Hearing

The ALJ will not reschedule the hearing if the ALJ does not find that there is good cause to change the time or place of the hearing. The ALJ will notify the claimant and representative of the finding and the rationale for the finding before the hearing. If HO staff is assisting the ALJ, staff may notify the claimant in writing or via a telephone call that the staff documents in an SSA-5002. HO staff must add and exhibit the documentation in the claim(s) file.

NOTE:

An ALJ may not change the place of a hearing merely because another site would be more convenient for the representative. Rather, the ALJ will consider the instructions in HALLEX I-2-0-70 in determining whether to change the place of a hearing.