As stated in our last newsletter, Social Security is proceeding with its disability claims by telephone rather than in person. While hardly perfect, we have found this transition to be beneficial to our clientele. The alternative is more delay, on top of the 18 months it typically takes a claimant to get a hearing. We oppose all forms of delay although we note other attorneys prefer in person hearings at all costs. Some estimate these in person attorneys can’t occur for 6-12 more months.
SSA has moved towards some telework but slowly. The process has made the Social Security Administration more available to claimants, and is supported by many SSA employees who help us with our claims. But the SSA employees union has filed a complaint with OSHA accusing the agency of forcing employees to work in an unsafe workplace. The issue of telework has see-sawed back and forth and is still in the air. The Office of Operations or the Office of Hearings Operations, which Commissioner Saul wrote would determine whether to restore telework, is occurring on a regional, case-by-case basis. Not easy questions about return to work issues but, as they say, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it; we support telework and minimizing exposure of SSA employees to hazards.