This blog article will address some of the reasons for a postponement of a hearing that a Claimant or attorney has no control over. These are in no particular order and not meant to be an exhaustive list.
One of the main reasons that a hearing is postponed is because of sickness or injury to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that presides over the hearing and makes the hearing decision. Unfortunately, there typically is not much notice given in these situations. Occasionally a substitute ALJ will be found either in the same office or sometimes a different location and appear via video teleconference (VTC). If a substitute cannot be found the hearing will be postponed for obvious reasons.
Another reason a hearing is postponed is because an expert (either medical or vocational) that is scheduled to appear and testify may be sick or a no-show. In those situations if the ALJ does not want to cancel, they will typically take as much testimony as possible and conduct a semi-complete hearing, but may have a supplemental hearing to take that testimony or send interrogatories in a written format to the expert to answer some questions that will help them render a decision. The Claimant has the right to respond to these interrogatories and may at times request a supplemental hearing.
A third reason is the absence of a hearing monitor or security guard. In these situations, again, substitutes will be searched for. However, if none can be found, the hearing will be cancelled. A hearing monitor is like a court reporter and is charged with making an audio recording of the hearing to preserve the record. If that cannot be done the hearing will not happen. A security guard with proper government clearance is necessary to complete a hearing as their role is to ensure safety in the federal government controlled facility, even in places where they are leasing space.
A forth reason a hearing is delayed is equipment failure. For example, if the recording equipment used by the hearing monitor does not work the hearing will be rescheduled. Or, if a hearing is scheduled to be completed by video, that equipment is down, and the ALJ does not wish to proceed by another means (i.e. telephone or driving to the hearing location if possible) the hearing will be postponed.
Finally, the most common reason a hearing is delayed is for weather. If the SSA decides to close a particular hearing office or remote location (SSA local office where hearing is being co-conducted) the hearing will be cancelled and rescheduled.
If any of the above scenarios occurs a Claimant and attorney can usually expect to be rescheduled within about 3 months.