Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Social Security Disability services and hearings were strictly limited to telephone and video hearings for almost two years. However, in January 2022, they announced a plan to begin in person services again. Essentially the plan created the option of limited in-person hearings with the continuing availability of telephone and video hearings. Therefore, it is important to understand your available hearing options as well as understand the pros and cons of each option.
To start, telephone or video hearings are two methods you can choose from. It is important to remember that to have a video hearing, you must have access to a computer or phone with the required software. The software required is Microsoft Teams – this is free to download.
Pros of Telephone/Video Hearings:
- Able to appear at your hearing from the comfort of your own home.
- Your hearing will likely be scheduled quicker.
- Appearing by telephone/video may be less stressful – this may benefit individuals who may have anxiety or other mental health issues.
- Lower cost of travel as you will not need to spend money on gas to travel to the hearing location or pay for parking.
- All that is required is a phone connection or wireless internet connection (video hearings).
Cons of Telephone/Video Hearings:
- The judge is not able to see you in telephone hearings and has limited access to seeing you during a video hearing.
- Technical issues or delays may arise –this is rare now but may happen.
- Overlapping conversations may make testimony difficult.
Along with the options of telephone and video hearings, now in person hearings are available with several pros and cons to consider as well.
Pros of In Person Hearings:
- The judge will be able to fully see you – this may be especially important for those who have certain behavioral issues or physical deformity.
- Less chance of overlapping conversations allowing for smoother testimony.
Cons of In Person Hearings:
- Your hearing will likely take longer to schedule since in person hearings are still limited.
- Costs are required and should be considered as you must obtain transportation to the specific hearing location.
- Safety concerns due to Covid-19 pandemic – however, Social Security does have safety precautions in place with the requirement that everyone wear a mask the entire time they are at the hearing location.