woman preparing for telephone disability hearing

Preparing for Your Telephone Disability Hearing

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Sometimes, you can’t appear in person for your disability hearing or you have a preference not to appear in person. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began allowing disability applicants to appear via telephone. Video hearings are also available now. There is a different dynamic to having a telephone disability hearing as opposed to appearing in person for the hearing. There are unique considerations that you should take into account. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your telephone disability hearing.

Preparing for Your Telephone Disability Hearing

Leading up to your telephone disability hearing, consider which phone is your highest quality phone. There should be a minimum of three people participating in your telephone hearing and, while you all will not be necessarily talking at the same time, a high-quality phone can be helpful for clarity of hearing purposes. The SSA phone system is notoriously low quality. Be prepared with your best phone to help ensure that you can hear everything and be heard on the phone call.

While you should be ready to go a few minutes prior to your scheduled hearing time, be prepared to wait a few minutes after the scheduled time for you to receive the phone call. It is common for judges to be running late and this can delay your start time by a few minutes. If the wait time extends to 30 minutes or longer, then you should go ahead and call the hearing office. The hearing office’s phone number will appear on the first page of the hearing notice you received. You can also look up the number using the SSA’s hearing office locator online. If you can, use a different phone to call the hearing office. That way you can still hear your other phone ring if they end up calling you to start the hearing at the same time you are calling to check in on the delay.

Have a nice quiet, private spot to take the disability phone call in. Hearings can take up to an hour and there will likely be many questions and answers that you will need to hear and give. Focusing on the hearing is important, so minimize as many distractions as you can. If you are ever asked a question that you do not hear or do not understand, ask a follow-up question. Do not try to guess at the question and the answer. Always ask for clarification.

To prepare for your telephone hearing, it is also a good idea to consider the limits of the telephone. Obviously, you cannot be seen on a telephone call. This means that when you are asked about your medical condition and the areas in which you experience pain, you have to be clear with your language. You cannot point to the area of your body to answer a question about where you are experiencing pain because others present at the hearing will not be able to see this. Describe in detail and be clear so that everyone, the judge, in particular, will understand.

Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney

The team at Disability Advocates is here to help at every stage of the disability application process. We can help you prepare your application, prepare for your hearing, and help support you throughout the process. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.