Decades Of Experience In Workers’ Compensation And Social Security Disability

Preparing for and attending a virtual SSDI hearing

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Social Security Disability

The changes in our world over the past few years have resulted in changes to our legal system. Today, virtual hearings are much more common.

If you have appealed a denied claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits, you may be scheduled for a virtual hearing.

In some ways, there are drawbacks to virtual hearings versus in-person hearings, especially in cases involving a disability. Testimony is often easier to hear and understand at an in-person hearing and it is easier for the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to observe your disability and how it impacts you.

However, virtual hearings are a much better option than telephone hearings. Virtual hearings with clear video and audio allow better communication between all parties than a phone call.

Here are some important steps to take to prepare for and attend a virtual hearing.

Test your technology ahead of time

Confirm the information sent to you with the meeting date and time is accurate and that the technology you have works.

Many virtual hearing notices provide technical instructions for the hearing. Make sure to follow them.

On the day of the hearing, verify that your computer or device is working well ahead of time and that the battery is fully charged. Try to remain near a charging station for your hearing. Choose a private place for the hearing that is free of distractions.

Dress and act as if you are at an in-person hearing. Dress professionally and be well-groomed.

Giving testimony at a virtual hearing

When testifying, be clear and honest when describing your disability and any of the symptoms that go with it. Explain both your physical and emotional symptoms and how they have disrupted your life.

Do not over-exaggerate your disability. This is an easy way to quickly turn an ALJ against you. One of the ALJ’s jobs is to assess your credibility, or how believable you are. They are often good at picking up on dishonesty.

However, avoid minimizing your symptoms. Your medical evidence is there to support your testimony. Describe what your doctor’s orders are and how you have been following them.

Preparing your witnesses

If you have witnesses who are testifying on your behalf, provide them with the hearing information ahead of time. Talk with them a day or two before the hearing and verify they have the technology available to participate in the hearing.

You will likely need to provide a list of witnesses and their contact information in advance of the hearing so they can be contacted. Obtain their contact information as soon as you can and send it to the ALJ’s office or wherever you are required to send your evidence.

Submitting and presenting your evidence

Presenting evidence such as medical records at virtual hearings can be more challenging. It is sometimes easier to show the records when everyone is in the same room.

Have your updated medical records or other evidence ready for the hearing. The evidence must usually be sent to the ALJ in advance of a virtual hearing so send it by the deadline. A day or two before the hearing, contact the ALJ’s office to verify they have received your evidence.

You should receive a copy of your entire case file before the hearing. Review it and prepare answers to questions you believe you might be asked.

These are changing times and virtual hearings can be challenging. There is support and guidance available for preparing for and attending your virtual hearing.