The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been struggling to keep up with increased claims for disability benefits, and to make a dent in the backlog of application claims they currently have. A new way the SSA is tackling this problem is to introduce video hearings as part of the process for approving claims.
The SSA has been facing a large backlog in both applications for disability benefits and disability claims. The new measure of incorporating video hearings into their procedures could prove to be a godsend for the employees at the SSA and the citizens who await the agency’s approval to receive claims. According to the Associated Press, nearly 2 million Americans are currently waiting to receive Social Security benefits.
The SSA’s official stance on how long it will take for an applicant to receive benefits is 90-120 days, but in reality the process can take over one year. The goal of the SSA’s video hearing is to cut down on both the time that applicants are required to wait in order to receive benefits, and to increase the number of cases it is able to handle.
Video hearing dates can be scheduled more quickly than regular hearings, and can provide an option for people who are otherwise unable to travel to attend a hearing. This gives Administrative Law Judges the ability to get through a larger number of hearings than they can currently handle. It also extends an option to applicants with serious medical conditions who are otherwise not able to attend a hearing, which can slow down the application process significantly.
Video hearings are conducted quite similarly to regular hearings. The new technology allows judges to see everyone in attendance from multiple angles. Thus, it is important that a claimant prepare and present themselves as they would for an in-person hearing.
Michael Astrue, the current SSA Commissioner has stated that by 2013, wait times for applicants will be reduced to nine months. Though some pundits argue that number is unrealistic, it is still a vast improvement over the 12-plus months that some applicants are currently required to wait.