The COVID-19 pandemic changed how many businesses perform day-to-day tasks and events. Just as the medical field moved towards telehealth solutions, legal arenas have also embraced remote practices. The Social Security Administration (SSA) began performing telephone hearings in the early stages of the pandemic to lessen the virus’s spread. The utilization of these phone hearings has continued since then and offers individuals a more convenient way to have their cases heard.
If you are interested in learning more about SSDI hearings and what remote options are available, contact our qualified team at The Khaki Law Firm, LLC.
Are the Procedures for a Telephone Hearing Different?
Telephone hearings with the SSA in Alpharetta are typically have the same format as in-person hearings and take around 30 to 45 minutes to complete, on average. This, of course, will depend on the judge’s style and whether there are any technical issues.
The main procedural difference between the two is the information given during the opening. Specifically, verifications must be made with each person on the line ensuring that:
- They are in private spaces in their home or office;
- No one else is giving them any assistance with what to say;
- Only the SSA is permitted to record the hearing.
Other than these details, procedures remain the same. Everything must be submitted to the judge a week before the hearing, and appointments are confirmed based on the judge’s schedule and availability. On average, there is still a two-to-three-month turnaround from the date that a person has their hearing to the date when they get that decision letter in the mail.
Requirements for a Telephone Hearing
The only requirement for a telephone hearing is a working phone number – either a landline or cell phone. However, having the conversation on speaker phone is not allowed because it causes an echo in the recording. Instead, using an earpiece or holding the handset during the whole session is recommended.
Benefits vs. Drawbacks of SSA Phone Hearings
One of the most significant benefits of video or phone hearings is that they enable the SSA to keep things moving and not create a backlog. If they were not conducting hearings by phone, especially when businesses were closed due to the pandemic, cases would potentially meet a significant standstill. Further, having the option to do a remote hearing also allows individuals who are limited by health, mobility, a lack of transportation, or other means to have their case heard.
Technological issues such as poor reception can make telephone hearings a little more challenging than in-person sessions. It is also important to consider scenarios where seeing something visually might be relevant to the case. For example, a client might have an issue with their hand but have difficulty describing what it looks like over the phone. When physical impairments are relevant to the case, it is often best for the judge to be able to see them in person to form a clear and accurate assessment.
Even though phone hearings might be a more convenient option for certain individuals, this is not to say that they should be approached without the guidance of a knowledgeable SSA hearing claims advocate.
Contact Our Alpharetta Firm for Help with Your Social Security Administration Telephone Hearing
Telephone and online video hearings have become an excellent way for individuals in Alpharetta seeking a decision on their SSA disability benefits to do so from the comfort of their homes. While these sessions are not without their unique challenges, having skilled legal representation from The Khaki Law Firm, LLC can help you better understand the process and ensure your best interests are represented. Contact us today for more information.