November 2, 2020

Should I Object to My Social Security Disability Hearing Being by Telephone Because of COVID?

Should I object to my Social Security disability hearing being by telephone because of COVID? At the present time, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) hearings are being held by telephone only.  There has been no indication by the Social Security Administration (SSA) of when they will be able to return to in person hearings.  You do have a right to object to a telephone hearing and wait until they are able to conduct in person hearings again. 

There are many things to consider when making this decision.  If I wait for a hearing, how long will it take to have my hearing held in person?  At the present time, there is no answer to that question.  Timing will depend on when the SSA believes it is safe for people to gather to for a hearing.  Your financial situation might also dictate whether you want to go forward with a phone hearing.  Most of my clients have been without income for an exceptionally long period of time and may find it in their best interest to move forward with a telephone hearing to try to get the payments they so desperately need.  Will the Judge be able to see the problems I am experiencing?  No, at the present time there is no video, only audio through your telephone.  However, the SSA is exploring use of video conferencing options to hold hearings. This may require that additional technology be used. Will you get a local judge to decide your case?  You might have a local judge, but because these are telephone hearings, they have been assigning judges from hearing offices throughout the country to adjudicate at these hearings.

In the end, this is a decision that the claimant must make. It may be in your best interest to discuss your case with your Social Security disability attorney to decide whether a telephone hearing is right for you.  I have found most of my clients are agreeing to hearings by telephone because they simply cannot wait any longer.  They find themselves in a situation where they financially cannot wait for an in person hearing with no definite date as to when it will happen.  Hopefully, in the near future, things will return to normal and you will be able attend a more personal type of hearing.

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