Hearings with Social Security During COVID-19

By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

In March 2020, we temporarily closed all of our Social Security Hearing Offices due to the Coronavirus pandemic and are not offering in-person hearings.  During the office closures, we are providing two flexible, safe, and secure hearing options:  either a telephone hearing or our new option of an online video hearing.   

Additional information on both of these hearing options is available here: www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_options.html

What are “online video hearings”?

Online video hearings are a secure way to conduct hearings over the internet, using a free platform called Microsoft Teams.  You and your representative, if you have one, can attend the online video hearing safely and securely from any private place with a secure internet connection using a camera-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer.  

Like our telephone hearings option, the online video hearings option is not mandatory.  We will conduct online video hearings the same way we conduct telephone and in-person hearings.  During the hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) will swear in all hearing participants and listen to your testimony.  You will see the ALJ and representative, if one has been appointed.  Other participants, such as vocational/medical experts and interpreters, will join by phone. 

What are the technology requirements to participate in an online video hearing?

You and an appointed representative, if applicable, must have access to email and a personal computer, laptop, or Android/Apple tablet or mobile device with a secure and private, high-speed Wi-Fi or cellular data connection.  The device must have a camera, microphone, and speakers.  If using a mobile device, you must download the free Microsoft Teams application. 

We will send you a link to a user guide that explains how to access and use Microsoft Teams before the date of an online video hearing.   

Please read our publication Online Video Hearings at the Social Security Administration at  www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-70-10284.pdf for additional information.  A short video about online video hearings is available at www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_video.html.

Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.