On September 3, 2020, we announced a new option for people awaiting a hearing. In addition to telephone hearings, we will begin offering claimants the option to participate in an online video hearing using the Microsoft Teams platform. Beginning in December 2020, we will send special notices that explain hearing options during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our mailing will include a form where the claimant can agree to a telephone hearing, online video hearing, or both.
This new, free service will allow claimants and their representatives to participate in the hearing from anywhere they have access to a camera-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer and access to the internet. This stable and secure online platform allows the administrative law judge to see and interact with claimants and their representatives just like an in-person hearing, while maintaining privacy. Other hearing witnesses, such as medical or vocational experts, may participate by phone only.
“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.” Read the latest news about online video hearings at www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_options.html. Please share this exciting news with your clients. We encourage you and your clients to accept the option of online video hearings. If you have questions about hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our Coronavirus web page at www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/.