Update: The Social Security Administration has been taking small steps towards normalization. At present, only telephone and video hearings are available and many employees are still working from home. The Administration has indicated that it is moving towards more in-person hearings, but no timetable has been provided.
The Courts in Ohio and elsewhere are on a similar track, although many have incorporated, and are now reliant on, video services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to allow for remote hearings. This has proven to be more efficient with less waiting and travel time for the litigants and counsel. Depositions and mediations are more frequently being scheduled as in-person although the litigants often agree upon alternative methods. Nonetheless, litigation has picked up, whether for employment claims, long-term disability, or auto accidents.
There continues to be concerns, from our firm and others, about SSA field offices remaining closed. “The Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) 1200 field offices have been closed for the last 20 months, with devastating effects for disabled Americans. Pre-pandemic, more than 43 million Americans were served at SSA field offices; the people most in need of walk-in, on-demand services included people with low- or zero-incomes, housing instability, limited English proficiency, or significant physical or mental disabilities that were themselves barriers to access. With office closures, their inability to file applications and appeals and to correct bureaucratic errors has led to historically unprecedented declines in people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits…” See, The Hill, “Half A Million Poor and Disabled Left Behind”
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