SSA Telephone Hearings During COVID-19

Phone Hearing

Welcome to the Telephone Hearings Webpage giving you important information about our telephone hearings process during COVID-19.

General Information

After you submit your Request for Hearing (SSA-501) form, we will send a notice package acknowledging that we have received your request for a hearing and provide information about telephone hearings.

Telephone hearings are not mandatory, and we will ask you to confirm if you would like your hearing by telephone. If you do not want to have your hearing by telephone, you may ask us to postpone your hearing until we can offer another option.

If you requested a postponement, we will send a notice giving you the new date, time and place of your hearing when we reschedule your hearing. We will send this notice at least 20 days before the date of the new hearing.

What To Expect/How To Prepare

Telephone Hearings – What To Expect/How To Prepare

On the day of your phone hearing, you MUST be available to answer your phone. A member of our hearing office staff will call you a few minutes before your scheduled hearing time. If possible, find a quiet place for your telephone hearing to protect your privacy and avoid distractions.

Just like an in-person or video hearing, there will be a number of participants on the telephone hearing with you: you, your representative (if you are represented), the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and a hearing reporter who will record and monitor the hearing. There may be other participants on the line as well, such as a vocational expert, medical expert, or interpreter.

We will conduct telephone hearings the same way we conduct in person hearings. The ALJ will swear in all hearing participants, deliver the oath, listen to your testimony, and ask you questions, if necessary. You also will have the opportunity to ask questions during the hearing.

To ensure you experience the best quality for your telephone hearing, we recommend the following:

  • Consider a traditional ‘land line’ telephone if you have one, which will likely provide you with a better connection and sound quality.
  • If you use a cell phone, be sure you charge your cell phone to have enough battery to hold a conversation for at 90 minutes. Find a location with privacy and good reception.
  • Use the mute button on your telephone when you are not speaking to help reduce background noise. Remember to unmute when you testify.

Telephone Hearings During COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Am I required to have my hearing by telephone?

No. Telephone hearings are not mandatory; however, as our hearing offices will remain closed for the foreseeable future, we encourage you to consider a telephone hearing or an online video hearing if you cannot wait for an answer on your claim. When our hearing office staff contacts you or your representative in advance of the hearing, you may agree to a telephone hearing, an online video hearing, or ask us to postpone your hearing. If you do not want a telephone hearing nor an online video hearing and you ask us to postpone, please be aware that we do not have an estimate of when we will be able to hold your hearing. If you initially decline our offer for a telephone hearing or a online video hearing and later change your mind, please contact your local hearing office to have your hearing scheduled.

How do I provide consent for participating in a telephone hearing?

  • At this time, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are only able to conduct hearings by telephone and online video until we resume our standard operations.
  • For hearing requests filed on or after December 7, 2020, we will send a special notice 30 days after we acknowledge receipt of the claimant’s hearing request.
  • With this notice, we will include a form to confirm if you agree to appear at your hearing by telephone or by online video. The notice will provide instructions on how and when to return this form to us.
  • The claimant’s appointed representative may sign the form in lieu of the claimant.
  • We also will accept a verbal agreement to appear by telephone or online video.
  • We will not schedule, or proceed with a hearing by telephone or online video unless we receive the claimant’s consent. If the claimant does not consent to appear by telephone or online video, we will not schedule the hearing at this time, or if already scheduled, we will postpone the hearing until we can offer another option, such as a hearing in person, as appropriate.