How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Impacting Social Security Hearings and Appeals

disability hearings and appeals during coronavirusThe Social Security Administration (SSA) has made significant changes to its operations and policies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since March 17, 2020, Social Security field offices and hearing offices nationwide have been closed for face-to-face-services. They will remain closed until further notice.

Many applicants are left wondering how Social Security cases are being impacted by this current crisis. Below, we discuss what you need to know about this evolving situation. For help applying for disability benefits or appealing a denied claim, reach out our legal team today to request a free consultation.  

Initial Applications and Reconsideration Appeals

The SSA continues to accept and process applications for benefits and reconsideration appeals. You can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) online or over the phone. You can also use the SSA’s online services to check the status of your claim or appeal.

The agency is extending filing deadlines wherever possible. SSA employees are being told to apply the “good cause policy” to provide maximum flexibility. This policy allows the SSA to extend the time limits for submitting appeals and taking other emergency actions during this pandemic. 

If you were asked by the SSA to contact them by a certain date, do not visit your local field office. You can try to call the office, visit the office once it reopens, or mail in your documents. The SSA should follow up with you later.  

Although the SSA has not released specific information on how claims are currently being processed, you should expect delays if you have recently filed an initial application or reconsideration. You should also anticipate delays related to medical exams scheduled by the SSA due to social distancing guidelines.

Disability Claims at the Hearing Stage

All in-persons hearing before an Administrative Law Judge are currently cancelled. If you already have a hearing scheduled, this hearing can only be conducted via telephone until standard operations resume.

You can contact your local hearing office by telephone or fax. A hearing office employee or SSA representative will reach out to ahead of time to confirm your availability for a telephone hearing and to make sure that your contact information is correct.

Telephone hearings are not mandatory, but if you choose to wait for an in-person or video hearing, it will be delayed for several months or more. There is currently no set date for when in-person hearings will resume. If you have a valid claim, an Oshkosh Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm is ready to represent you at your hearing and discuss whether you would benefit from a telephone hearing.

Appeals Council and Federal Reviews

Similar to the claims process, the SSA has not released specific information about how the appeals process is being conducted because of coronavirus. The agency has not indicated how or whether these matters are proceeding. You should expect delays as SSA employees continue some work remotely.

Continuing Disability Reviews

The SSA has suspended all Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) at this time. These reviews help identify who might no longer qualify as disabled. The agency will not be starting or processing these cases.

If you currently have a CDR pending, you do not have to respond to the review or request medical evidence from your doctor for now. The SSA will follow up with you once standard procedures resume.

Call Our Firm for Immediate Help

At Sigman Janssen, our lawyers are here to help. We do not require a face-to-face meeting. We are ready to assist you with filing an application for disability benefits, submitting a Request for Reconsideration or requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge without leaving the comfort of your home.

Our firm offers a free consultation so that you can learn more about the legal options available to you. You pay us nothing up front for our services. We only get paid if we help you obtain disability benefits.

Trusted. Local. Lawyers. Ph: (877) 888-5201.