As hearing offices remain closed due to Covid-19, the Social Security Administration is currently only offering hearings in disability claims by phone. You are not required to have your hearing by phone. If it is important to you to present your disability claim in person, you have the right to request that your disability hearing be conducted in person. The judge should postpone the phone hearing if you make this request; and, if your request for a postponement is approved, your SSI/SSDI disability in person hearing will be scheduled either by video conference or in person when the hearing offices reopen.
You may get a hearing notice that says for you to appear in person for your hearing even after agreeing to a phone hearing. If you have already agreed to have the hearing by phone and the SSA hearing office has acknowledged that you will have a phone hearing, then you need not appear in person. Social Security is currently not able to change their written hearing notices to reflect that your hearing will be by phone. Once Social Security offices reopen, contact them for confirmation of whether your hearing will be in person or by phone.
Preparing for your phone hearing
On the day of your phone hearing, you may be called by someone on behalf of the judge a few minutes before your scheduled phone hearing time because the judge needs to get several other people involved in your case on the conference call. Therefore, it is extremely important that you be available to answer your phone on the day of your hearing. Other things to keep in mind include:
- The judge might be delayed for various reasons, in which case your hearing might start late, so do not panic if your hearing starts later than scheduled.
- If you have access to a land phone line, it is more suitable to use a landline than a cell phone as typically it may provide better connection and quality of sound.
- If you are going to use a cell phone, make sure your cell phone is sufficiently charged to hold a conversation for at least one hour or more.
- Try not to use the speaker phone function on your phone. Either hold your phone to your ear or if you have a headset with a microphone, that may provide even better sound quality.
- If your cell phone has a “mute” button, it is helpful to use it when you are not speaking. That helps keep background noise off the line. Just remember to turn the mute button off when you testify.
- Be in a quiet place for the phone hearing, you should not have any distractions while your hearing is going on before the judge.
- To protect your own privacy find a place to be alone for the call, if possible.
- Speak loudly, clearly, and slowly, so you can be heard and understood. Remember that everything you say is being recorded.
- If you are having trouble hearing or understanding what is said, you should immediately inform the judge.
- If you accidentally get dropped from the call, wait for the judge’s office to call you back, unless you get other instructions at the beginning of the hearing by the judge.
If you have additional questions or need legal advice, you may apply for our services online at www.lsnjlawhotline.org or by calling 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529).