Despite an ongoing national pandemic, the SSA has maintained its ability to conduct a social security disability hearing during covid. Because the agency was already conducting some hearings by phone, the SSA was able to implement that protocol across the board. While it’s a good thing that hearings continue to happen, a social security disability hearing over the phone may not give you the best chance to win. Now more than ever, it is critical to contact a social security disability attorney immediately.
Judges Approve The Most Social Security Disability Benefits
When you file an application for social security disability benefits, it goes through an administrative review. The vast majority of these claims get denied at this stage of the process. Most people will have to get their case in front of a judge to get a favorable decision.
Judges approve more cases than the people who review the applications. This is probably because a judge gets to take in more evidence and has a better ability to apply the law of the sequential evaluation process than the people who just look at the application. A judge gets to hear your testimony. The application reviewer does not.
This is a critical point when we think about a social security disability hearing during covid. A hearing today is done only over the phone. This significantly limits your ability to communicate with the judge and be heard.
Testimony At A Social Security Disability Hearing During Covid
Testimony at a hearing is more than the words you say. It’s how you say them. It’s how you present yourself. In a phone hearing, the judge only hears your words. She can’t see you. The judge can’t see how you walk into the room, that you have a limp or require a cane. A judge will not be able to see that you have to sit and stand during your phone hearing to limit your pain. No judge will see that you are missing body parts or disfigured. This is crucial stuff when it’s real.
In a social security disability hearing during covid, the judge won’t be able to see your facial expressions. How is the judge supposed to assess your honesty if he can’t see you? The judge isn’t going to be able to see how important this whole thing is to you. This means that getting a social security disability lawyer to help you at your hearing is now more critical than ever.
How Can A Social Security Disability Attorney Help During Covid
Attorneys are professional communicators. They talk to judges every day. That’s how they earn a living. What we have learned is that a social security disability hearing during covid requires creative communication efforts. As lawyers, we have to help the judge “see” you.
Over the phone, it’s impossible for the judge to see your limp. Our solution? Get your doctor to write a prescription for your cane or explain why it’s necessary in her medical report. That’s something the judge can see. Our job is to communicate, in some way, all of these things that the judge can’t see over the phone.
When you testify at a social security hearing during covid, you answer a series of questions. If you don’t have a lawyer, these questions come from the judge. Who knows if he asks you the right questions that let you tell your story. That’s why you want a lawyer. Your lawyer gets to ask you questions in front of the judge. These questions can be tailored to get everything out there so the judge can “see” you as much as possible.
The other advantage to having a lawyer at your social security disability hearing during covid is that your lawyer develops evidence. Without a lawyer, the evidence the judge sees is basically whatever the SSA collects in the file. With a lawyer, we can make sure all of the necessary medical evidence is in that file. We can get your doctors to write a medical source statement to explain your functional limitations. These hearings require more help from doctors than ever before. We know what to ask them to do to give you the best chance at securing the benefits you need.
Finally, as communicators, lawyers write briefs. This is a special communication that a lawyer can write for the judge to read before the hearing. This helps to tell the judge what to “look” for in the testimony and evidence as the hearing plays out. This is a huge advantage!
It’s Your Choice
When your case is getting scheduled for a hearing, the SSA will let you delay your turn. You can put it off until after covid and appear in person before the judge. But who knows how long that will be? Who can wait another year or more to get benefits without ending up on the streets?
If you have to get to a hearing even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, talk to a lawyer about it. Most attorneys offer a free consultation – we do – so take advantage of it. A social security hearing during covid can still be effective. But, it takes someone who knows what the judge is looking for to make your best case.