TN 10 (12-17)
DI 33025.080 Using Video teleconferencing (VTC) Equipment to Conduct Hearings
A. Policy for conducting hearings using VTC equipment
Disability hearing units (DHU) with access to VTC equipment may use that equipment to conduct disability hearings if all of the following conditions are met:
The beneficiary or recipient signs and returns a statement to the disability hearing officer (DHO) prior to the hearing stating, “I know that I may have an in-person hearing. I voluntarily elect to have my disability hearing conducted by video teleconferencing equipment. I understand that having my hearing conducted by video teleconferencing equipment will not affect the outcome of my claim.”
The hearing follows the same format as a traditional, in-person hearing. The beneficiary or recipient has the right to appoint a representative, review the record prior to the hearing, submit additional evidence, request assistance with obtaining additional evidence, present witnesses, and question any witnesses. (These rights are set out in the initial determination notice sent to the beneficiary or recipient).
A disability determination services (DDS) or DHU employee, contractor, or other personnel (as specified in your local business process), are at the remote site with the beneficiary or recipient to facilitate the disability hearing process, e.g., by ensuring that the VTC, facsimile machines, etc., are operating properly.
The DHO should terminate any hearing conducted via VTC equipment and schedule an in-person hearing if the DHO believes that he or she cannot effectively conduct the hearing, or believes that the beneficiary or recipient is not able to present his or her claim effectively, due to the video format.
B. Procedures for contractors acting as facilitators
Contractors acting, as non-DDS or DHU employee facilitators shall take due precaution to ensure that the confidentiality of the beneficiary or recipient’s information, presented as part of the VTC hearing, is not breached. Disclosure of such information may only be made pursuant to the Social Security Administration’s privacy regulation at 20 CFR Part 401.90. Contractors who access, use, or disclose the data provided improperly (i.e. not to perform their official job duties) may be subject to civil and criminal sanctions under the Privacy Act and other applicable Federal statutes and regulations.
NOTE: It is inappropriate for a DHO to consider a facilitator’s observations unless the facilitator advises the beneficiary or recipient of the facilitator's observations and gives him or her, an opportunity to respond.
For example, the facilitator may advise the DHO that he or she observed the beneficiary or recipient walking and moving about without any apparent limitation prior to the hearing. Then, during the hearing, the facilitator observes the beneficiary or recipient exhibiting or relating a marked limitation in his or her ability to move freely about. However, the DHO may not consider the facilitator's statement in making his or her determination unless the beneficiary or recipient has an opportunity to respond to the facilitator's statement and both statements are added to the record.