The coronavirus pandemic has forced organizations across industries to come up with creative solutions. One of those solutions that has resulted from the necessary precautions during COVID-19 is that many courts are now holding digital hearings for a variety of cases.
Many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) hearings have been conducted via video calls previously, for example, if the claimant was incapacitated and unable to attend court in person. The coronavirus, however, has expanded this practice into all SSDI hearings due to court closures.
Social Security Disability Insurance
SSID benefits are available for US citizens who are incapacitated and unable to work due to prolonged illness or disability. These benefits are paid in conjunction with the number of years an individual has worked and paid Social Security. They are not to be confused with SSI, which is a similar program which pays benefits to those who are disabled but have not paid into Social Security.
If you apply for SSDI and are denied these benefits, you have the right to appeal this decision and attend a court hearing.
During the coronavirus crisis, many residents of the United States applied for and did not receive SSDI, the same as during “normal,” non-pandemic-affected months; although normal life has halted in some ways, the needs of disabled citizens have not been put on pause.
If you find it necessary to attend a digital hearing to appeal for disability benefits, here are some things to expect.
What To Expect At Your SSDI Hearing
If you participate in an SSDI hearing via Zoom or another video conferencing platform, you will join a call which is also attended by your lawyer, doctors, other witnesses, and a judge.
Although the hearing is conducted virtually, court rules all still apply. This means that you are sworn to tell the truth; you must dress according to court dress codes; you must behave in a way acceptable for a courtroom at all times; and you must represent yourself and your disability in a non-exaggerated manner.
While it is difficult to communicate your pain through a virtual call, it is important to convey as best you can to the judge that you are in need of SSDI. You can expect to be questioned by the judge, and all witnesses can be cross-examined to determine the nature of your illness or disability.
There are some downsides to testifying via Zoom rather than face to face. It may be more difficult for the Administrative Law Judge presiding over your case to judge your credibility virtually, as it will be more difficult to see any physical evidence there may be of your disability. You should also expect technical difficulties, as they tend to occur more often than not in virtual calls.
However, choosing to wait for an in-person hearing will almost certainly cost you a longer wait time before your case can be heard and resolved. Each individual should evaluate their particular case and situation before making a decision regarding a virtual vs. an in-person hearing.
How to Be Successful in Your Social Security Disability Hearing
It is important to get adequate representation when you attend an SSDI hearing. The law is complicated, and claimants often need advice on how best to proceed in a hearing. A California Social Security disability lawyer can represent your needs and distress in court and fight in your corner with legal expertise and humility.
Your lawyer’s job is to represent you fairly, telling your side of the story to the judge, who will listen to all sides fairly and without bias. Having a legal professional by your side, whether physically or via your web connection, takes the pressure off you and helps lessen stress during a challenging time.