To supplement its current telephone hearings in the midst of the pandemic, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will offer online video hearings beginning later this fall. Remote video and telephone hearings will be the only options “for the foreseeable future,” according to the SSA.
This new free service, which will use the Microsoft Teams platform, will allow applicants and their representatives to participate in the hearing from anywhere they have access to a camera-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer. The Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) will be able to see and interact with applicants and their representatives as in an in-person hearing, while maintaining the privacy of the claimant’s information, according to an SSA press release. Medical, vocational and other experts will be able to participate as well.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of finding new ways to serve the public,” said Commissioner of Social Security Andrew Saul. “For over a decade, the agency has used video hearings to get applicants their hearing decisions sooner. This advancement builds on that effort, making it easier and more convenient to attend a hearing remotely, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue to ensure all participants’ safety, we expect online video hearings and telephone hearings will be the only two hearing options for the foreseeable future.”
While SSA offices have remain closed to the public, ALJs have conducted more than 180,000 telephone hearings since March.
For updates on the implementation of the new video hearing service, visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page at: www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/