Traditional Video-Teleconference Hearings in SSA Facilities
Welcome to the video teleconference, or VTC hearings webpage. These hearings are also referred to as “traditional” video hearings, which are held at one of our hearing sites. In a VTC hearing, you and anyone who comes to the hearing with you, such as your representative or witnesses, will interact with the judge hearing your case through a video monitor. The judge is in a different location and conducts the hearing by video.
If you are comfortable with participating in a hearing but do not have access to the equipment needed to have your hearing by online video in your own home or office, a VTC hearing could be great option for you. We have a large network of VTC hearing locations across the country. VTC hearing locations may be closer to you than one of our hearing offices.
After you submit your Request for Hearing (SSA-501) form, we will send a notice package acknowledging that we have received your request for a hearing. This notice package includes an important form, HA-55 Objection to Appearing by Video Teleconferencing. You should complete and send this form back to us if you do NOT want to participate in your hearing by traditional video/VTC. You have 30 days to send this form back to us letting us know you are objecting to participating in your hearing by VTC. If we do not receive this form from you indicating that you do NOT want to have your hearing by traditional video/VTC, then we may schedule your hearing to be held by traditional video/VTC.
We will send you a notice that tells you the time and place for your hearing at least 75 days before your scheduled hearing date. Pay special attention to the place/address, as it may be different from where your case was handled previously. The video hearing location could be at one of our hearing offices or another Social Security facility like a local field office. If you must travel more than 75 miles from your home to attend a hearing in one of our hearing sites, we can reimburse certain costs.
What To Expect
Before the Hearing
- If you need any accommodations in advance of the hearing, please ensure you, or your representative if you have one, contacts the hearing office holding your hearing in advance so we can support your needs.
- If you are the parent or guardian of a child who is requesting a hearing, we may request the child attend the hearing. We will provide information about whether a child needs to participate in a hearing in the notice of hearing we send you.
- If you want to review your file before your hearing, please call the hearing office to make arrangements. You can find hearing office phone numbers on our hearing office locator site by visiting the SSA Hearings and Appeals Website at https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/ho_locator.html.
Day of the Hearing
If you have your video hearing at an SSA facility, please keep these very important points in mind:
- You should arrive at least 15 minutes before your hearing time to check in for your hearing with a member of our team.
- Hand sanitizer is available.
- Masking is optional, unless the hearing site you are visiting is in a high transmission area for COVID-19. See Frequently Asked Questions on this page for more information.
- A video hearing uses equipment that allows you and the ALJ to see, hear, and speak to each other in real time, just as if you were talking face to face.
- Transmission of the hearing is secure, and we protect your privacy. Just like in-person hearings, we record only the audio portion of video hearings. We do not record the video of any of our hearings.
- A technician will be available to make sure the video teleconferencing equipment is connected and working properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have held traditional video/VTC hearings in our offices for close to twenty years. The process to opt-out of a VTC hearing has been a standard process. Online video hearings via Microsoft Teams were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a secure hearing that we conduct by video, over the internet, using an individual’s personal equipment. We require a separate form for consent to telephone and online video as compared to traditional, or VTC, hearing opt outs.
If you initially opt-out for a traditional video hearing and later change your mind, please contact your local hearing office.
If you miss the timeline for returning the video teleconferencing opt-out form and we schedule your hearing by traditional video/VTC and you do not want to participate in the hearing that way, contact your local hearing office as soon as possible. If you show good cause for missing the deadline we will reschedule your hearing in person, or if you agreed, by telephone or online video.
Effective March 27, 2023, when the COVID-19 Community Level is HIGH (CDC COVID-19 Community Levels) in a county where a an SSA office is located, pursuant to E.O. 13991 and consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, we require all individuals who are 2 years or older—to wear a high-quality mask indoors at the facility, regardless of their vaccination status.
High-quality masks or respirators include respirators that meet U.S. or international standards (e.g., KN95) or “procedure” or “surgical” style masks. We will provide individuals with high-quality masks or respirators when we require them.
Our managers will check the CDC COVID-19 Community levels weekly.
If the office is in a high transmission area:
- Masks will be required for all visitors. Masks can be provided if requested.
- Managers will post signage explaining the masking requirements for the office.
- Visitors entering the office will be asked to complete the COVID-19 Screening questions.
If an individual answers “yes” to any of the screening questions, they will be directed to call the hearing office to reschedule their hearing or request to change their hearing option to a remote hearing if they choose to keep their regularly scheduled appointment time.
If you are unable to wear a face mask and the office you are visiting is in a high transmission area for COVID-19, please contact the office handling your case right away to make alternate arrangements for your hearing. The phone number of the hearing office handling your case is located at the top of the letters we send you. You can also find hearing office phone numbers on our hearing office locator site by visiting the SSA Hearings and Appeals Website at https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/ho_locator.html. as soon as possible.
We offer remote hearing options, telephone and online video hearing, if you not do feel comfortable attending an in-person hearing. If you are interested in these hearing options, indicate your consent when we send you the Remote Hearing Options form after we receive your hearing request.
The hearing office phone number appears on the top right corner of any letter we sent you about your scheduled hearing. You can also visit our https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/ho_locator.html to find the address, phone number, or fax number of your local SSA hearing office.
If you must travel more than 75 miles from your home or office to attend your hearing in one of our hearing sites, we can pay certain costs. Here are the rules that apply for individual claimants:
- We can pay your transportation expenses such as the cost of a bus ticket or expenses for driving your car.
- In certain circumstances, you may need meals, lodging, or taxicabs. The Administrative Law Judge must approve these special travel costs before the hearing unless the costs were unexpected and unavoidable.
- You must submit a written request for payment of travel expenses to the Administrative Law Judge at the time of the hearing or as soon as possible after the hearing. List what you spent and include supporting receipts. If you requested a change in the scheduled location of the hearing to a location farther from your residence, we cannot pay for any additional travel expenses.
- If you need money for travel costs in advance, you should contact the hearing office as soon as possible before the hearing. We can make an advance payment only if you show that without it you would not have the funds to travel to or from the hearing.
- If you receive travel money in advance, you must send an itemized list of your actual travel costs and receipts to the hearing office within 20 days after your hearing.
- If we gave you an advance payment that is more than the amount you are due for travel costs, you must pay back the difference within 20 days after we tell you how much you owe us.