As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has taken action to modify how it handles disability claims pending at the hearing level. Both Social Security offices and hearing offices have since been closed, making in-person hearings not possible in these uncertain times. The agency has now moved to conducting Social Security Disability hearings by telephone.
Dayes Law Firm discusses the usefulness of telephonic hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic and what to do if you have already been scheduled for a hearing or have had a hearing cancelled. For help applying or appealing a disability claim, request a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
Should I Agree to a Telephonic Hearing?
While every case is different, agreeing to a telephonic hearing has its benefits. These hearings are done from the comfort of the claimant's home and most are generally able to get their hearings done faster before an administrative law judge (ALJ) than those who choose not to do one over the phone.
Some claimants may feel hesitant because they cannot see an ALJ in front of them to discuss their limitations. They are also not being evaluated in the same way as they would during a regular hearing. However, waiting for an in-person hearing could take at least six months to a couple years to be rescheduled. A postponement would only further delay the ability to receive the disability benefits you need.
To help a telephonic hearing run as smoothly as possible, it is important to:
- Makes sure your disability lawyer and the SSA have the best contact information to reach you. If you have unreliable service, ask a friend or family member for assistance.
- Have a designated area that is quiet and free from any distractions so that you can concentrate on the phone call without interruption.
- Be by your phone at least 15 minutes before the scheduled call and be patient during delays.
An experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm is prepared to review your situation in a complimentary consultation. In certain cases, it may be advisable to hold off for an in-person hearing or have a video hearing instead if we believe that it would help increase your chances of approval to be seen by an ALJ.
Conducting Disability Hearings By Telephone
If you have a hearing date coming up, you should expect to receive a call from the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) giving you the option to have a telephonic hearing or not. Under the OHO, ALJs conduct hearings and issue decisions.
The OHO will make every effort to have the telephonic hearing at the same time your initial hearing was scheduled. If it is not possible, the telephonic hearing will be rescheduled for a different time and day, sooner rather than later.
What If I Am Scheduled for an In-Person Hearing?
If you have an in-person hearing already scheduled, you have the right to postpone or reschedule for a later date rather than moving forward with a telephonic hearing. The new hearing date may take many months and other setbacks could happen as the SSA focuses its efforts on prioritizing critical cases.
Hearings Cancelled Due to Coronavirus Outbreak
If you hearing has been cancelled because of coronavirus and you were not given the option to have a telephonic hearing, the OHO could help schedule the hearing over the phone as soon as possible.
Get Help With Your Disability Claim Today
If you have a valid claim, we recommend contacting our disability lawyers at Dayes Law Firm. We are prepared to represent you at your hearing and discuss whether you would benefit from a telephonic hearing. Our firm has helped many claimants over the years obtain the disability benefits they need.
A consultation with us is free of charge with no obligation to retain our services. You pay nothing up front unless we help you obtain a recovery.
Talk to a lawyer today. Ph: 1-800-503-2000.