Much of the country is adapting to a new way of life brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the legal system is no exception. Courts, law enforcement officials, and attorneys alike are redesigning their workflow to accommodate social distancing regulations and stay-at-home orders.
While your disability claim or case may have to move to an online medium, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality of care or dedication from an attorney. Members of our team are committed to working with you in this unprecedented time and ensuring that your case is well reviewed before your telephone hearing.
At our firm, we understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life for everyone. While your disability case may proceed differently compared to past cases, a hearing claims advocate from the Khaki Law Firm can help you adapt to telephone hearings.
We are fortunate to live in an age where disability hearings can be conducted over the phone. With many states issuing stay-at-home orders, the Social Security Administration, or SSA, switched to telephone hearings in March to keep up with disability cases around the country.
Telephone hearings are typically favored over other technological conference mediums like Zoom and Skype because of the sensitive nature of the meetings. Many claimants are worried about their information being sent through insecure channels. While there is a learning curve with telephone hearings, the risk of information being taken or shared is much lower.
One of the most significant differences is that telephone hearings tend to run longer than in-person hearings. This can usually be attributed to technical difficulties or judges who may not be tech savvy. In most cases, telephone hearings take between 30 and 45 minutes but could go longer depending on the style of the judge and whether there are any technical issues during the call.
The process of a telephone hearing is very similar to that of an in-person hearing. Our firm can help you prepare for the types of questions you may be asked. We can also compile the documentation brief for the judge on your behalf. Then, you and other involved parties will join a conference call.
The only requirements for you are that you must have a working phone number (i.e. a landline or a cell phone) and that you keep your phone off of speaker during the hearing. Since it can be uncomfortable to hold a phone to your ear for an entire hearing, some clients use earpieces or headphones.
Telephone hearings are typically scheduled around a judge’s schedule. Hearings can be as early as 8:30 a.m. and as late as 4 p.m.. We have seen hearings start early, so we recommend that you have your phone on you for at least an hour prior to your scheduled hearing.
It’s best to conduct a telephone hearing in a quiet and private place where the signal is good. It’s also important to make sure your device has enough charge or minutes to last through the meeting. We understand that there could be some trepidation toward having an interview over the phone. While some clients may choose to wait until the courts re-open, we recommend agreeing to a telephone hearing to ensure that your case is heard in a timely manner.
Some people believe that hearings conducted in informal ways will impact their disability claims. However, your medical records should speak for themselves regardless of whether your eligibility is evaluated over the phone or in person.
For many of our clients, telephone hearings will not disrupt their cases. We continue to offer pre-hearings conferences between our clients and hearing advocates three weeks prior to their official hearing to prepare them for their testimony. The SSA has found that telephone hearings are a great way to keep things moving without a backlog, which can be beneficial for our clients who would otherwise be left waiting during indefinite court closures.
On average, our firm has seen decision letters arrive in the mail about two to three months after a client has their telephone hearing. As the pandemic continues, many find relief in knowing that their disability case can continue despite an uncertain future for court reopenings.
We understand that this is a very difficult time for many. We also believe that your disability claim should not be compromised and encourage you to use telephone hearings to your advantage.
At the Khaki Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you overcome some of the recent hurdles imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Just as we are adapting to telephone hearings, we are trying to ensure that you are well prepared and comfortable with the new process.
If you or someone you love is looking to pursue a disability claim and you are worried about how COVID-19 may impact your case, you can benefit from reaching out to our legal counsel. Our knowledgeable team of attorneys can help you understand your rights and how to proceed with your disability case. Contact our firm today to learn more.