In the last year, Social Security has closed its field offices and hearing offices to the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Social Security has continued to hold hearings for disability benefits. If you are waiting for a Social Security hearing, you currently have three options:
- You can wait for in-person hearing. Social Security will postpone your hearing until its offices reopen to the public. Once the offices re-open, they will begin scheduling hearings in-person again.
- You can request a hearing by video-teleconference using Microsoft Teams. Social Security will scheduled a hearing and you will have to appear by video.
- You can request a hearing by telephone. Social Security will call you and do your hearing over the phone.
How does this affect claimants and how will it impact your specific case? This question is best answered by an attorney familiar with your case. However, there is additional information that may help you decide which option is right for you.
You have a right to an in-person hearing. However, you may have to wait a very long time for your hearing. People who selected an in-person hearing in March of 2020 are still waiting for their hearings to be scheduled. As of the date of this article, there were no plans to reopen Social Security offices for the next few months. This means some people have already been waiting more than a year from when they requested a hearing. This adds additional time to an already long process and may be too long a wait for some people.
If you choose to do a hearing with Microsoft Teams, you will be responsible for providing the equipment and technology necessary to do your hearing. This means you will need a phone or tablet with a camera and the Microsoft Teams app. You will have to set it up and confirm that it works properly for the hearing. You will also need a reliable internet connection. If you have technical problems, you will have to let Social Security know and try to get problems corrected before hearing time.
If you choose to do a phone hearing, Social Security will call you at the time scheduled for your hearing. You still need to make sure you are alone and in a quiet place to make sure the hearing is recorded properly.
An experienced Social Security attorney can explain which option is best for you. They can also provide information about how to best present evidence in your case. For a free evaluation of your Social Security case, give us a call today 563-583-9101.