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Social Security Disability Hearings During COVID-19

Although in-person hearings as part of your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims have stopped due to COVID-19, Social Security Administration (SSA) has worked hard to provide you with other options.

If you missed the deadline to file your request for hearing, SSA will mail you a notice that requests a written explanation from you as to why you missed the deadline.  You will have 30 days from the date on the request to provide your explanation for good cause.  If you fail to respond in 30 days, SSA will dismiss your claim, and you will have to start over with a new application.

In the event that you scheduled your hearing but failed to attend on the appointed date and time, you should call the hearing office at the number listed in your Notice of Hearing as soon as possible.  SSA understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many people’s lives, and it will work with you to reschedule if you provide good cause for missing your hearing.

SSA now offers you the option to hold your hearing via telephone or online with video, but it is not mandatory that you choose one of these methods.  Since SSA offices will remain closed for the foreseeable future, attending a telephone or online video hearing could help you get your benefits faster.

If you do not want to have a telephone or online video hearing, you can ask SSA to postpone your hearing until you can attend it in-person, but keep in mind that SSA does not have an estimate yet for when offices will open again.  If you initially told SSA that you didn’t want a telephone or online video hearing but later change your mind, contact your local hearing office, and they will schedule a hearing for you.

Did you file your hearing request on or after December 7, 2020?  If so, SSA will send you a special notice 30 days after it acknowledges it received your hearing request.  The notice will ask you to consent to have your hearing via telephone or online video.  If you have an appointed representative, he or she can sign the consent form on your behalf.  Additionally, SSA will accept a verbal agreement.

Should you choose a telephone hearing, try to use a landline if possible, but if you need to use a cordless or cellular telephone, make sure it can hold a charge for 90 minutes.  In the event that you choose an online video hearing, you and your appointed representative can attend from any private place with a secure internet connection.  If you do not affirmatively consent to having a telephone or online video hearing, SSA will postpone your hearing until it can offer you another option.