The Coronavirus continues to cause disruptions in the day-to-day operations of many governmental bodies and organizations across Georgia. To adapt to the recent developments, the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) is making temporary changes to how disability hearings are held.
Many of these changes are being implemented to protect Social Security Administration (SSA) staff members and proactively fight the spread of COVID-19. However, these changes may affect how your disability hearing is conducted as well as which path forward is in your best interests.
How Will Disability Hearings be Conducted?
As of March 30, Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) will be conducting disability hearings over the phone in their own homes. This means that they may not have access to physical copies of files submitted to the OHO, which can cause delays for some disability cases. Scheduled in-person hearings that were affected by COVID-19 may still occur on the same date over the phone.
Impact of COVID-19 on Claims
Many medical facilities are currently focused on providing essential or emergency services. As a result, individuals may experience delays in receiving medical records for their disability hearing. While ALJs cannot be compelled to waive deadlines for the submission of medical records, many judges in Georgia have been asked to be understanding of delays caused by COVID-19.
Options Available for Those Seeking SSDI/SSI
While many OHO and SSA services are limited due to the Coronavirus, people seeking SSDI/SSI benefits still have options available to them. You have the right to refuse conducting a disability hearing over the phone and to reschedule to a later date. An experienced hearing claims advocate can help decide if this is the best option for your individual circumstances.
Similarly, for a person with compelling medical evidence, requesting an On-the-Record (OTR) decision may be a viable option. This can help reduce delays and minimize additional steps in the SSDI claims process. A member of our team can help determine if submitting an OTR request is in your best interests and guide you through the submission process.
Contact a Hearing Claims Advocate Today
Changes to the way OHO conducts disability hearings can add further complications to an already complex process. The experienced hearing claims advocates at the Khaki Law Firm can guide you through how the Coronavirus may affect your disability hearing and move forward with your best interests at heart. To determine your options, call our team today.