SSA Office Increases Use of Video Teleconferencing Tools

According to FCW, the Social Security Administration is battling a backlog of disability hearings by utilizing video conferencing. The administration has tripled its use of video conferencing for adjudication hearings in recent years. The process allows the agency flexibility in managing its workload. According to a recent report, number of hearings for disability caseload increased from 23,000 in 2005 to 84,000 in 2009.

In 2010, the agency saw an even larger number of claims and hearings, especially due to a hurting economy and decreased employment opportunities for disabled workers. Likewise, the number of video teleconferencing hearings increased from about six percent to 18 percent.

Overall, the Social Security Administration has been satisfied by the use of teleconferencing services. The technology helps the program combat a nationwide backlog of cases. The SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review began using video hearings in 1999 for claims involving Social Security Disability Insurance. An Administrative Law Judge remains in their office, while claimants appear in a video conferencing room, typically in an SSA office. The full-room units are housed in fixed permanent locations serving SSA regions. If one office has a heavy workload, it can transfer some of its hearings to a remote video teleconferencing location.

Some offices use the equipment often. About 15 percent of the offices used video for 15 percent to 30 percent of the time, and 18 percent of offices used video for 30 percent to 50 percent of their time.
It is not required for an Administrative Law Judge to use the system and some judges still prefer an in-person, human connection with a claimant.

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