Now that Social Security administrative law judges are conducting hearings by telephone, many disability claimants are wondering how telephone hearings work. We have polled the attorney representatives at the LaPorte Law Firm to gather the top ten tips for testifying at your disability hearing by telephone. Based on our experience representing our clients at their telephonic hearings, here are the best 10 practices for ensuring the hearings by phone goes smoothly:
- Find a quiet room in your residence with few distractions.
- Turn the speakerphone on your cellphone off to avoid feedback or echoing.
- Do not allow family members to sit in the room with you, plan to testify on your own.
- Wait until the judge has completely finished asking a question before answering. Waiting until it's your turn to speak prevents cross talk on the transcript. Do not speak unless you are asked a direct question.
- If you don't understand a question, take the time to ask for it to be repeated.
- Keep your answers short.
- Don’t breathe heavily or too close to the phone (the breathing noise can be picked up by sensitive phone receivers).
- Talk slowly and clearly.
- Stay focused during the hearing.
- Do not do other activities during the hearing such as eating, drinking, etc.
Although a telephone hearing cannot replace the personal nature of an in-person hearing, we are pleased with how the Office of Hearings Operations in the Bay Area have quickly adapted to conducting telephonic hearings. While disability claimants have the right to object to a hearing by telephone, we do not know when the Bay Area hearing offices will reopen due to covid-19. If you choose to agree to a telephone hearing you will shorten the wait time for receiving your ALJ Decision.