Staying Informed with the Social Security Administration During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenging and frequently-changing situation at SSA, and all over the world. As of press time, SSA has closed all field offices and hearing offices to the public. Most SSA employees are teleworking. The Office of Hearing Operations (OHO) is allowing the option of telephone hearings if claimants and representatives agree; those who prefer to wait for in-person hearings are granted postponements. However, some OHOs and ALJs are still struggling to implement telephone hearings. Disability Determination Services (DDS), being state agencies, vary widely in their operating statuses.
The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) has submitted two letters to OHO leadership and has participated in several calls with SSA components including Communications, Operations, OHO, and Office of the General Counsel. Although SSA leadership have said they are encouraging staff to interpret good cause for delays in filing appeals, submitting evidence, and other deadlines, they have not yet complied with our request to make subregulatory guidance on these points publicly available.
We will talk to our clients about whether they will accept telephone hearings or wait for postponements. Additionally, it has always been important for us to make contingency plans in case we become ill or otherwise unable to work.
Throughout this crisis, we will keep working on behalf of our clients to do what is best for their Social Security Disability claim.