Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Social Security Administration has switched to online hearings for your Disability Appeals. Since most of the SSA staff is working remotely from homes, the SSA has discontinued in-person ALJ hearings for an indefinite period of time.
What are Social Security Online Hearings?
An online Disability Hearing is an ALJ hearing conducted by video, over the Internet, using Microsoft Teams. Through the App or Website, the claimants scheduled for disability hearings will need to appear online from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet, or camera-enabled computer with a secure Internet connection.
The Administrative Law Judge, Disability Hearings
If is often said that renewing a social security claim is easier than qualifying for the social security claim in the first place. Almost 60% of the social security claims are denied, however, not all of the denied claims means they can't be claimed in another attempt. That is why, if your case was denied you have the options for a hearing from an administrative law judge, ALJ. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic induced social distancing measures, the SSA has disabled in-person hearings, hence all disability claimants are now required to appear for online hearings.
How to Schedule an Online Disability Hearing?
In order to participate in an online disability hearings process, you must call your local SSA hearing office if you meet the requirements for the Disability Hearing:
a) You have been denied of SSDI benefits
b) You have filed for a Disability Hearing
Once you have applied for a Disability Hearing, you will be notified by the SSA staff to appear for your online hearing on the scheduled date. However, you will need to confirm back the hearing date to save your spot.
How to Notify the SSA you want to Appear in the Online Disability Hearing?
You may either call or write to your local SSA office, or get your scheduled hearing appointment through your Social Security Disability Attorney. You can also agree to appear along with your appointed disability representative in your Online Disability Hearing. This will greatly increase your chances for the hearing process.
- Call the SSA: You can agree to appear at an online video hearing by calling your local hearing office at the number provided in your hearing notice. The SSA staff will ask you to provide your name, email, address and phone number
- Write to the SSA: You can agree to appear at an online video hearing by completing and returning the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Hearing Agreement Form that the SSA sent with your hearing notice. You also can agree to appear at an online video hearing by sending a written statement to the SSA that includes the following information: your name, email address, and cell phone number. You can fax or mail your completed form or written statement to your local hearing office. To find your hearing office's address and fax number, you can visit SSA Appeals Locator
What if you do not want to appear at an Online Hearing?
The SSA does not force disability claimants to appear in an online hearing - In short, it is not compulsory to appear at an online disability hearing. If you previously agreed to appear at an online hearing and then changed your mind, you will need to simply notify the SSA to reschedule or cancel your online hearing. As a default, the SSA will give you the option to appear in a Telephone hearing if you are uncomfortable to appear in an online hearing. In order to reschedule from online hearing to a Telephone hearing, you will need to call your local hearing office at the number provided in your hearing notice in the mail or email.
However, if you do not want to appear in a Telephone hearing too, then you will need to notify the SSA through the same phone number. The SSA will either delay scheduling your hearing, or if it is already schedlued, put it on hold for an in-person hearing until their offices re-open.
Preparing for an Online Hearing
Once your hearing date arrives, the SSA will email you a link to the Microsoft Team with instructions to prepare, access and use the Microsoft Team in order to appear for your online disability hearing. You can also visit Appeals Online Hearing Options to view the user guide.
** Note that filing and preparing for a disability appeals is a complicated process. You will need to be prepared with adequate possible answers and documentations to convince your administrative law judge of your disability. Hiring a Social Security Attorney to assist in preparing for your online appeal can greatly improve your chances of getting disability online hearing appeals process approved. For guidance on online disability hearings, you can consult our social security attorneys here.