SSA ALJ Hearings During Covid
Since March of 2020, SSA has been conducting Administrative Law Judge hearings by telephone. Our firm has been successful with this new format and we find that it actually offers many benefits to claimants! At first, many of our clients were hesitant that the Judge wouldn’t “see” them. “I know folks are concerned about a Judge denying them easier with a phone hearing. I have not noticed any difference in outcomes between in-person and phone hearings. A plus that I have found is that clients don’t have the stress or expense of physically getting to a hearing office.” explains OBL Partner Lindsay Osterhout. Because Social Security disability claim approvals are mostly based on objective medical evidence, the judge “seeing” the claimant is not necessary. Because OBL is so good at developing the case, we feel very comfortable with remote hearings and our expert representatives are easily able to walk our clients through the process.
For the best experience, SSA recommends the following:
On the day of your phone hearing, you MUST be available to answer your phone. A member of our hearing office staff will call you a few minutes before your scheduled hearing time. If possible, find a quiet place for your telephone hearing to protect your privacy and avoid distractions.
Just like an in-person or video hearing, there will be a number of participants on the telephone hearing with you: you, your representative (if you are represented), the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and a hearing reporter who will record and monitor the hearing. There may be other participants on the line as well, such as a vocational expert, medical expert, or interpreter.
We will conduct telephone hearings the same way we conduct in person hearings. The ALJ will swear in all hearing participants, deliver the oath, listen to your testimony, and ask you questions, if necessary. You also will have the opportunity to ask questions during the hearing.
To ensure you experience the best quality for your telephone hearing, we recommend the following:
- Consider a traditional ‘landline’ telephone if you have one, which will likely provide you with a better connection and sound quality.
- If you use a cell phone, be sure you charge your cell phone to have enough battery to hold a conversation for at 90 minutes. Find a location with privacy and good reception.
- Use the mute button on your telephone when you are not speaking to help reduce background noise. Remember to unmute when you testify.
Learn more about remote hearings