In March 2020, the Social Security Administration (SSA) temporarily closed its hearing offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To accommodate for the circumstances, the SSA started offering online video hearings in December 2020. Through Microsoft Teams, clients, their representatives, and an administrative law judge can connect and conduct Social Security hearings. Online hearings are operated in the same way as in-person hearings, including swearing in all participants, listening to testimonies, and inviting others, like vocational and medical experts, to join the call by phone.
How it Works
To prepare for the hearings, the SSA has created general guides for claimants and their representatives. These guides include a user manual, training video, and information on how the hearing will be structured. Participants can use a smartphone or any personal device to join the online hearing, as long as there is a stable internet connection. However, it is not mandatory to have a video hearing, and claimants still have the option to choose to call in through via telephone. All video hearings are done through the SSA’s secure network to protect the privacy of participants.
Results of the Online Hearings
Since the roll out of virtual hearings, the SSA has conducted 3,500 online video hearings through Microsoft Teams, and over 35,000 claimants have chosen this method as their preferred hearing format. With this rising popularity, 20,000 online hearings will take place over the next few months. In addition, the SSA strives to further improve its current system by sending out satisfaction surveys to claimants and representatives who have conducted a video or telephone hearing to gain insight on areas for development and the overall experience of using new technology.
Contact the Khaki Law Firm Today
Filing for Social Security disability benefits can be stressful, especially with new procedures resulting from COVID-19. A disability advocate at our firm can offer more information on SSDI eligibility and help you navigate online hearings. With proper legal assistance, you may be able to obtain the disability benefits you’re entitled to. Contact our team today to learn more about our services and how we can support you in an online or telephone hearing.