I represent a former nurse whose claim for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits was approved today by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) from Albany. I had requested to appear via video at the Long Island hearing office with the ALJ and the claimant appearing in Albany.
When the Albany hearing office scheduled this matter for a hearing, it insisted that I appear in person at the Albany hearing office. The Albany hearing office claimed that I had asked for a hearing at the Long Island hearing office, which was false. To compound matters further, the Albany hearing office stated that the claimant signed a Video-opt-out, and failed to mention that Form HA-55 specified that I wanted to appear by video teleconference at the hearing, which was also untrue, and could be confirmed by reading the document.
Considering that experts frequently appear via telephone, I requested that I appear at the claimant’s hearing, via Long Island ODAR's videoconferencing. I explained that the claimant’s right to the counsel of her choice should not be denied because she had to leave Long Island because she could no longer afford to live there after becoming disabled. After contacting the ALJ directly, he agreed to allow me to appear from the Long Island hearing office via videoconference.
When I was retained, the claimant resided on Long Island. However, because her disability prevented her from earning a living, she was forced to relocate to the Albany area where the cost of living was more affordable. Having to relocate is not uncommon, and a claimant should not have to discharge their attorney of choice because of financial reasons. Kudos to ALJ Arthur Patane for recognizing that plight.