I-2-3-12.Objections to Manner of Appearance or Time and Place Set for Hearing
Last Update: 1/21/20 (Transmittal I-2-231)
A. Objections to Manner of Appearance
1. Objections by Claimants to Appearing In Person or by Telephone
Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) management, through designated staff, 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.
For telephone hearings, OHO management, through designated staff, does not provide the opportunity to object because the claimant is only directed to appear in that manner under extraordinary circumstances.
If a claimant submits an objection to appearing in person or by telephone, OHO management, through designated staff, is not required to consider the objection.
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, OHO management, through designated staff, 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, OHO management, through designated staff, will follow the instructions in HALLEX I-2-3-10 B.1.
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 administrative law judge (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.
If a claimant notifies the hearing office (HO) of an objection by telephone, the HO staff will inform the claimant that he or she must submit a written objection that includes the reasons for the objection and the time or place he or she wants the hearing to be held. 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 impact of the proposed change on the efficient administration of the hearing process;
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.
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 for the claimant or representative 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.
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, OHO management, through designated staff, will reschedule the hearing. OHO management, through designated staff, will notify the claimant and representative of the finding by issuing an amended notice of hearing at least 20 days before the date of the rescheduled hearing but will not set the hearing for a date that is less than 75 days from the date of the first notice of hearing under HALLEX I-2-3-15, unless the claimant has waived his or her right to advance notice.
A finding that good cause exists to change 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
OHO management, through designated staff, 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. OHO staff will notify the claimant and representative of the finding and the rationale for the finding before the hearing. OHO staff may notify the claimant in writing or via a telephone call documented in an SSA-5002. OHO staff must add and exhibit the documentation in the claim(s) file.
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.