Applying for Social Security disability benefits is not always an easy process. In fact, the application is very extensive and requires solid proof of disability along with a lot of other information. And once your application is complete, you will have to wait months to get a hearing at which a decision will be made.
These hearings are a central part of the SSD processes, however, getting to them can be difficult, especially for people who live with disabilities. People who live in smaller towns or rural areas often have a long drive to get to a Social Security office. Inclement weather and disabilities that make it difficult to sit in a car for long periods of time are just a few of the inconveniences that people who have to drive long distances for a hearing face. However, one town is piloting a new concept that will hopefully benefit New York residents one day as well.
After receiving numerous complaints from people who were forced to drive a long time to get to a hearing, the Social Security Administration office in Colorado Springs had decided to try out video conferencing for these residents. The office plans to start using Skype to conduct hearings in October. A state senator says he hopes the video conferencing will make things easier for people who might otherwise be stuck with a drive that is six hours or longer.
It will be interesting to watch what happens in Colorado Springs as they start testing video conferencing. If things go well, it may spark a movement across the U.S. that could benefit millions of people who don’t live close to an SSA office.
Source: The Durango Herald, “No more trips for hearings about benefits,” Jim Haug, Aug. 15, 2012