The novel coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic has led to some drastic changes in day-to-day to life.
But despite urgings from many leaders and medical professionals for people to stay home as much as possible, the Social Security Administration is still going forward with most disability hearings as of this writing in mid-March 2020.
The one exception is for video teleconference hearings held at field offices. Social Security has announced the temporary closure of these offices, so it’s unclear exactly what will happen to these scheduled hearings, but it seems likely that if claimants want to go forward with them, they’ll have the option to attend by phone.
While in-person hearings continue at Offices of Hearings Operations, we expect that the vast majority of judges will be more accommodating than usual given the current situation.
What that means is that if you feel uncomfortable traveling to a hearing, especially if you have a condition that has weakened your immune system, a judge will likely grant your request to postpone your hearing or attend the hearing by telephone.
And while nearly all hearing offices currently remain open, it is likely that Social Security will close individual offices in areas with large numbers of Covid-19 cases. In addition, individual administrative law judges have discretion to postpone cases.
This is a uniquely trying time not just for the practice of disability law, but for the entire country.
Remember to take the precautions advised by the CDC for your own health, but also stay in touch with your attorney so that you’re up to date on any changes in your hearing.