My name is Scott Rubin. I'm an attorney from Rubin & Badame, Attorneys at Law, P.C.. And we practice Social Security Disability in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. During this pandemic, people ask me consistently whether there are hearings. Do we still go personally in front of an administrative law judge?
Phone hearings and alternatives
At this time, the answer is unfortunately no. The only option for individuals applying for Disability is to have a phone hearing. However, if you do not want a phone hearing, you can object to a phone hearing. In that case, the hearing will take place by video, eventually. Social Security is working on that. Or it might take place in front of a live judge when the pandemic is over.
About video hearings
There are negatives and positives about having a video hearing. Let's say, the case involves a physical problem, such as a problem with the heart, lung, liver, back, or brain. Let's also assume that we have the objective evidence, the math, and the science to show that you cannot return to your work, and that you cannot perform any type of work on a regular and sustained basis or certain types of work based on the physical capacity or emotional capacity of you. Then a video hearing would be fine.
Mental health cases
However, if it's a straight emotional case, with depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, or schizophrenia, the claimant and the attorneys should make a decision. Often it's better to be eye to eye in front of a judge. However, there are many times that we do phone hearings with mental health cases. We don't know how long it's going to be until we can get in front of a judge again. And people just like you need compensation to survive.
It's important for an applicant to remember that if he or she receives a notice in the mail that they are going to have a phone hearing unless they object. If they do not want a phone hearing, they need to object and check off the square that says that they do not agree to a phone hearing.