With the continuing issues surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security has had to adapt with how they conduct hearings. The Social Security Administration is currently holding all Social Security Disability hearings by telephone only. Therefore, if you choose to proceed with your hearing by telephone, you will be testifying by phone which can pose different problems versus in person or video hearings. The following are a few tips and tricks to enhance your phone hearing experience:
1. Pre-Hearing Discussions with Attorney. It is essential you remain in contact with your attorney prior to your phone hearing. Your attorney will not only explain the in’s and outs of a phone hearing, but they will also let you know any issues that might come up in your case. While your attorney cannot testify for you during the hearing, they will likely provide some helpful guidance as to how to answer questions and what issues are most important in your specific case.
2. Avoid Interruptions/Talking Over One Another. Phone hearings are different than in person hearings or video hearings since you are unable to see people’s expressions or read body cues. However, these hearings still need to be recorded and in order to get a good recording, interruptions and people talking at the same time should try and be avoided. Thus, wait until the judge or your attorney is done saying what they need to say before you provide your input or answer.
3. Answer the Specific Question Posed. It is important you answer the specific question being posed. You will be questioned by the judge; your attorney will also have an opportunity to ask you questions as well. Each of them is asking a specific question because they know the standard to prove disability, therefore answer the question at hand as best you can. Do not talk about irrelevant information or go off on a tangent about something not being inquired about. Generally, if the judge wants more detail they will ask you to give more detail. Additionally, your attorney will also follow up with an issue if they believe it needs to be discussed more.
While the Social Security Administration has not yet announced an end date in which hearings will return to either in person hearings or video hearings, these tips and tricks will help you have a smooth phone hearing. If you have further questions regarding this topic please speak with an experienced attorney.