SSA has proposed a rule that could negatively affect people appealing agency decisions regarding their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Currently, claimants have the option of participating in an appeals hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) via video or in person. While most claimants do not object to video hearings, about a third do opt out of such hearings in preference of a live, in-person hearing.
The proposed rule by SSA would instead allow the agency to determine the method of hearing for claimants and remove claimants' ability to opt out of video hearings. This could have significant negative effects on many claimants who, for various reasons, sometimes due directly to their disabilities, are not able to effectively participate in a video hearing. Issues can range from problems with understanding remote interpreters for people who are deaf or have limited English proficiency, to recurring technical difficulties and inadequate accommodations at specific video locations used by SSA.
The rule would also make other harmful changes, such as making remote testimony by medical and vocational experts the default, and reducing the notice time from 75 days to 20 days when SSA sends an amended notice of hearing or schedules a supplemental hearing. Justice in Aging is submitting comments to oppose this proposed rule. The overwhelming majority of comments, including from claimants, representatives, and the ALJ union, oppose these proposed changes.
If you would like to submit comments, you may do so at https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=SSA-2017-0015-0001.
The deadline for submitting comments is January 14, 2019 at 11:59pm Eastern Time.