SSA Telephone Hearings

Phone Hearing

Welcome to the Telephone Hearings webpage. Here we provide important information to consider when deciding whether you would like to participate in your hearing by phone.

General Information

After you submit your Request for Hearing (SSA-501) form, we will send a notice package acknowledging that we have received your request for a hearing and a separate notice providing information about telephone hearings.

Telephone hearings are a safe, flexible, convenient, and popular hearing option used extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in extraordinary circumstances previously. If you are interested in having a hearing by telephone, be sure to complete the Remote Hearing Agreement form timely so we can schedule your hearing efficiently. Our hearings can take approximately an hour or longer, so please ensure you provide a telephone number that will be accessible to you on the day and time of your hearing for the full length of the hearing.

What To Expect

What to Expect/How to Prepare

On the day of your telephone hearing, you must be available to answer your phone at the number included in the notice of hearing. A member of our hearing office staff will call you a few minutes before your scheduled hearing time. To protect your privacy and avoid distractions, if possible, find a quiet place for your telephone hearing.

Just like any hearing, there will be a number of participants on the telephone hearing with you: your representative (if you have one), the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and a hearing reporter who will record and monitor the hearing. There may be other participants as well, such as a vocational expert, medical expert, or interpreter.

We conduct all hearings the same way. The ALJ will swear in all hearing participants, listen to your testimony and the testimony of any witnesses, and ask you and other witnesses questions, if necessary. You also will have the opportunity to ask questions during the hearing.

To ensure you experience the best quality for your telephone hearing, we recommend the following:

  • Consider a traditional ‘land line’ telephone if you have one, which will likely provide you with a better connection and sound quality.
  • If you use a cell phone, be sure you charge your battery enough to hold a conversation for at least 90 minutes. Find a location with privacy and good reception.
  • Use the mute button on your telephone when you are not speaking to reduce background noise. Remember to unmute when you want to speak.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I required to have my hearing by telephone?

Not generally. Telephone hearings are not mandatory unless we find an appearance by video teleconferencing or in person is not possible or other extraordinary circumstances prevent you from appearing by video teleconferencing or in person.

Otherwise, if you do not return the form consenting to a telephone hearing, we will assume you do not want to participate in your hearing in that way. If you initially decline our offer for a telephone hearing or an online video hearing and later change your mind, please contact your local hearing office to have your hearing scheduled.

How do I provide consent for participating in a telephone hearing?

  • After we receive your hearing request, we will send a special notice with information about telephone and online video hearings.
  • With this notice, we will include a form to indicate if you agree to appear at your hearing by telephone or by online video. The notice will provide instructions on how and when to return this form to us.
  • We also will accept a verbal agreement to participate in a hearing by telephone or online video.
  • We will only proceed with a hearing by telephone or online video if we receive the claimant’s consent. If the claimant does not consent to appear by telephone or online video, we will not schedule the hearing in that manner.