All Social Security hearing offices remain closed for in-person hearings due to the COVID pandemic. As a result, Social Security is now offering both telephone and video hearings to all claimants. Video and telephone hearings are the only options for claimants during the COVID pandemic.
Starting this month, the Social Security Administration will send out notices to claimants who have an upcoming hearing to chose whether they want a telephone or a video hearing. In addition, claimants who previously refused telephone hearings now have the opportunity to request an online video hearing.
Since Social Security hearing offices closed in March 2020, there have been over 200,000 telephone hearings. At the LaPorte Law Firm, we have held numerous telephone hearings during the pandemic. Although a telephone hearing can’t replace an in-person hearing, we have been pleased with how the telephone hearings have been conducted.
In 2021, Social Security will roll out Microsoft Teams – a secure software program to conduct Social Security administrative hearings. Administrative Law judges from the National Hearing Center will conduct the majority of the video hearings. Over time, local judges will be trained to conduct these video hearings.
If you choose to go forward with a video hearing, you must have access to an email address because Social Security will send a link to access the hearing via email. You must also have internet access and access to a device with a microphone and camera. Just as with telephone hearings, you must be in a private room. You may be with your attorney in the same room or you and your attorney can each video conference into the hearing from separate locations.
Both telephone and video hearings remain optional. To further discuss the merits of each option, please reach out to the LaPorte Law Firm for a free consultation.