COVID 19 – IN PERSON HEARINGS UNAVAILABLE
In person hearings on claims for SSI and disability insurance benefits are currently postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means that many claimants require alternative ways for their claims to be heard as soon as possible. Until very recently, the majority of hearings which have not been postponed have been held telephonically. Online video hearings will soon become available in addition to telephone conferencing. The Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to provide a safe, simple, cost effective, and convenient way for individuals to be able to attend their hearing now, rather than have to wait until it is safe once again to attend in person.
All individuals attending a video hearing will need access to basic technology such as a smart phone, computer or tablet. They will, obviously, need an Internet connection as well as an email address.
The procedure used for a video hearing will be the same as an in-person hearing. The ALJ will first swear in all parties. After the swearing in, testimony will be taken and questions asked as needed.
There are, however, certain disadvantages to video hearings which should be considered by you and your counsel before so agreeing. Generally, in person testimony concerning your precise disabilities, for example, is much more impactful and compelling. Furthermore, certain professionals who may be helpful to your case, such as interpreters, vocational experts, and medical sources may not be available for video conferencing. Another issue is the potential for technical difficulties, issues such as blurry video, audio delays, and power interruptions are all things that could easily go wrong during the hearing. In fact, the more people who take part in the hearing through separate remote connections, the greater the possibility of technical difficulties arising.
If you believe that a video hearing is right for you, talk the issue over with our lawyers here at Green & Greenberg who are always available to help you decide.