Social Security Video Hearings During COVID-19: FAQs
Social Security Hearing Offices were closed a year ago in March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And despite widespread vaccination availability, there is still no word when they will open. As a result, all in-person hearings with the Social Security Administration were suspended.
During these ongoing coronavirus closures, the SSA now offers two different Social Security hearing options, via either telephone, or the more recently added online video hearing.
In this article, the experienced social security disability attorneys at Cantrell Green answer or clients most frequently asked questions about remote video SSA hearings.
What “platform” is used for Social Security online video hearings?
Social Security online video hearings are conducted over an internet connection, using a free platform called “Microsoft Teams.” While most people have heard of “Zoom” by now, many people are not familiar with Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams is a software “application” that you can download to participate in SSA hearings, as well as other meetings or video “chats”. Microsoft Teams is free to use for basic features. The free version is sufficient for Social Security hearings.
People with a subscription to Microsoft 365 already have a more robust version of this application available for use on their computer.
Do I need a special computer for an online Social Security hearing?
No. But your computer will need to have the following to access the online hearing:
- An enabled camera
- Speakers (with volume turned up)
- An internet connection
What if I don’t have a computer or internet access?
You can also use any “smart phone” with a camera. Virtually every mobile phone, including iPhones, Androids, and even “jitterbugs” that are popular with seniors has a camera. You can also attend via tablet, such as an iPad.
However, you do need an internet connection. Most “smart phones” will automatically connect you to the internet when you click on your appointment link.
What if I am not good with technology?
Before the date of your online video hearing, the Social Security Administration will email you a link with instructions on how to access and use Microsoft Teams on your computer or phone.
When you click the link on a computer, in most cases Microsoft Teams will open automatically. If your web browser does not support Microsoft Teams, you will be given a link to download the free Microsoft Teams “application”.
When you click the link on a smart phone or mobile device, you will be given a link to download the Microsoft Teams “app”.
If you have technical difficulties, and our attorneys are representing you, they can help you through the process. Or you can contact your hearing office via phone, using the phone number on your correspondence. You can also find your hearing office’s phone number HERE.
Do I have to use online video for my Social Security hearings?
No. You are not required to use video for your Social Security hearing. You can request a telephone hearing instead.
You can also wait for the SSA to reopen if you want to attend an in-person hearing. But this will delay your case and your benefits indefinitely, since there is no known timeline for the SSA to reopen in-person hearings. So, our attorneys strongly recommend that you opt for either a phone call or online hearing.
Can I have an attorney for a telephone or online Social Security hearing?
Absolutely! You and your attorney do not need to be in the same location to attend the Social Security video hearing. Microsoft Teams is like Zoom, in that it allows multiple parties to connect at the same time.
In-person Social Security hearings can be nerve-wracking enough for a claimant. And online video hearings can add another level of stress for people who aren’t familiar or comfortable with technology. This is one of many reasons that having an attorney for your Social Security hearing is recommended.
Not only can our Social Security attorneys help you present the best evidence in the most effective way, but they can also ensure that the technology involved in a video hearing doesn’t present a problem for you.
Attorneys for Social Security Video Hearings
Our experienced Social Security attorneys handle online video hearings every day. We can make the process go smoothly for you and help ensure that you receive the maximum benefits for which you qualify.
If you have an upcoming Social security hearing – or you have questions about filing a Social Security claim, contact our attorneys today. We will be happy to answer your questions and walk you through the process every step of the way, so that you get the best possible results in your Social Security case.
Social Security Disability Hearing Attorney: 800-964-8047