Why You Should Personally Appear at Formal Hearings
While many services offer you the opportunity to appear at formal hearings by speakerphone or VTC, this is normally not a wise course of action. Why, you may ask? Quite honestly, appearing in person provides the board members with the chance to see you and observe your physical or emotional limitations in person. For example, they cannot see you shifting uncomfortably in a chair or having to stand or move around due to neck or back pain and spasms if you are testifying by speaker phone. Similarly, a VTC doesn’t accurately capture such much moments well. With respect to mental health issues, the emotional toll that you experience when describing your symptoms, limitations or traumatic stressors is conveyed much more powerfully in person. Based upon 30 years’ experience successfully representing service members in such settings, the only times that I recommend appearing by speakerphone are when you may look less disabled than you are. For all other cases, you really should appear in person. After all, if you do not care enough to show up, why should the board members care?