The move to phone hearings for Social Security disability cases has presented a unique set of challenges for everyone involved.
While Social Security has overall been good about notifying claimants of their hearings, and attorneys have been contacting clients ahead of time, unfortunately, there are still issues where claimants miss their hearing.
Maybe they got confused about the time, misplaced their phone, ran out of minutes, or had a medical emergency. There are a lot of reasons why this can happen.
The good news is that judges have been very understanding when this has happened.
Most will wait 15 minutes or so to call back and see if you pick up then. Some will move on to other hearings and try back a little bit later in the day. They will also try any other phone numbers that Social Security or your attorney has in your file.
If we still can’t get ahold of you that day, the procedure is essentially the same as when a claimant hasn’t shown up for an in-person hearing.
The judge issues what’s called a Notice to Show Cause. Essentially, this is a letter requesting that you explain why you missed your hearing. If the judge finds you had a good reason for not answering your phone, he or she will reschedule your hearing for a later date.
One upside of doing these hearings by phone is that Social Security is moving much more quickly to reschedule them, so in most cases, new hearings are being calendared only 3-4 months later.