The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that it will begin using teleconferencing software over the internet to conduct remote hearings for people with proceedings before the SSA. Until now, they have struggled to conduct hearings remotely due to technological limitations, causing delays and difficulties. However, by better integrating video conferencing technology, the SSA hopes to facilitate hearings for people applying for disability benefits.
SSA Experiences Delays Due to COVID-19
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is the greatest public health crisis the United States has faced in over 100 years, which resulted in substantial changes in lifestyle to limit the spread of the disease. Even six months after New York and other states initiated quarantine procedures to handle COVID-19, it remains a substantial enough threat that many government offices remain closed to the public. The SSA is no exception, causing difficulties as people trying to appeal their disability benefits ruling through the SSA must struggle just to get a hearing.
Complications for Appeals of Disability Benefits
If you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits through the SSA and are denied, you have a right to appeal that decision before an administrative court judge. These appeals were, until recently, typically conducted as in-person hearings before the judge at your local SSA building. However, the health risk posed by conducting these hearings in person while the coronavirus was still a threat required some adjustment to this standard procedure.
For the past six months, the primary workaround these administrative court judges used to deal with this problem was to conduct remote hearings over the phone. While it is not impossible to conduct a hearing this way, it has proved to be incredibly inconvenient, and judges and appellants alike were frustrated with this system. As a result, the SSA was on the lookout for a solution that could allow them the convenience of communicating remotely while still protecting the privacy of the people whose hearings were being conducted.
The Move to Video Hearings
After months of work, the SSA has finally moved to conduct its administrative hearings through online video conferences. While this kind of software has become used increasingly throughout the pandemic, government agencies like the SSA have been slow to adopt the technology, particularly where sensitive information is involved. However, after months of conducting remote hearings over the phone, they finally have found a solution that suits their needs.
This is good news for anyone seeking to appeal a denial of SSDI or SSI benefits. Aside from allowing administrative judges to conduct remote hearings more easily, it also helps to protect the privacy of people seeking disability benefits through the SSA. With remote hearings likely to continue for the foreseeable future, these video hearings may become an essential part of many peoples’ efforts to seek disability benefits.
If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.