As the Social Security Administration is conducting hearings by telephone, many disability claimants wonder how telephone hearings work. We’ve gathered the top tips for testifying at your phone disability hearing.
What To Expect During A Phone Hearing for Disability
On the day of your phone hearing, an SSA office staff will call you a few minutes before your scheduled hearing time. Just like an in-person or video hearing, there will be several people in the phone hearing with you: you, your attorney, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and a hearing reporter who will record and monitor your hearing. Other participants may be on the line, such as a vocational expert, medical expert, or interpreter.
The SSA will conduct telephone hearings the same way they operate in-person hearings. Disability hearings typically last between 30 to 60 minutes.
The ALJ will swear in all hearing participants, deliver the oath, listen to your testimony. The judge will refer to the information in your application to ask you questions. This is an opportunity to describe how your disability has impacted your life and helps inform the judge’s decision to award or deny your claim. Work history is another key topic at disability hearings. The judge will ask questions about your job, the physical and mental requirements to perform your job, and the resulting impact on your job duties. The judge will also allow your lawyer to make statements about your disability and claim for benefits.
Tips for A Successful Phone Hearing
Having your SSD hearing by phone is not mandatory. However, if you chose to do so, below are tips to help ensure that your phone hearing goes as smoothly as possible.
- At least 10 minutes before the time scheduled for your hearing, find a quiet space in your home with no unnecessary background noises, such as children, pets, television, or music.
- If you plan to use a cell phone, make sure it’s fully charged, as your hearing could last up to 60 minutes. Also, find a spot in your home with good reception to avoid a dropped call.
- Avoid using speakerphone to prevent feedback or echo. Use a headset to help the judge and other parties hear you clearly.
- Do not allow family or friends to sit with you, plan to testify on your own.
- Do not try and do other activities such as eating, drinking, or driving during your hearing.
- Do not answer your phone or respond to texts during your hearing.
- Talk slowly and clearly.
- Do not answer a question if you don’t understand or are unsure if you heard it correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask for the judge to repeat themselves.
- Wait until the judge has finished talking or asking a question before speaking. Waiting until it’s your turn prevents cross-talk on the transcript.
- Always stay calm and be courteous. Remember always to be honest, but do not exaggerate.
What Happens After Your Social Security Hearing
Once your hearing has ended, it may take anywhere from two to five months to receive a decision from the ALJ. While many judges may decide quicker than this, the decision must be officially written and entered into record before it can be considered ﬁnal. Your wait time will vary based on the volume of claims the office is handling and how many decision writers are available.
Disability Law is All We Do. Let Us Help You Prepare for Your Phone Hearing.
You do not have to prepare for or attend your appeal hearing alone. Having a lawyer with you at your hearing will allow you to focus on your testimony so you can thoroughly explain your disability to the judge. At Disability Attorneys of Michigan, our attorneys will support you during your testimony and make sure all relevant evidence is presented. Give us a call today at 800-701-5524. Consultations are free, and there’s no fee until we win.