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B.R., Queens

Off The Record – SSD – Virtual Social Security Hearings

Video Transcript

Interviewer: So, Kim, I wanted to ask you because you work in our social security department, and I know you’re very versed in the whole social security process from, you know, the initial intake level, all the way up to the hearing level and the appeals process. How is it working now because social security is essentially all virtual at this point, correct?

Kim: Yeah. So social security was actually doing phone hearings long before the pandemic, so they really, it was a smooth transition for them. And we’re doing the hearings by phone, they’re going great. And most of the time we don’t really feel like anyone is at a disadvantage because every impairment has to be backed up by medical records. So, you know, the judge is really looking at it the day before and really coming to, you know, a conclusion probably before the hearing anyway even when we were in person.

Interviewer: Okay. So essentially it’s based on, you know, the medical records that have been developed…

Kim: Only medical records, yeah.

Interviewer: Right. That have been developed by our office. And I know that one of the concerns people have is, you know, just in terms of having an attorney, I guess the benefit is having a staff that can fully develop their medical record to ensure that hopefully there is success at getting approved at the initial level.

Kim: Yeah. So the thing is, is that with social security, you need to know exactly what medical records are needed from what time period. It can be very complex. We deal with all different kinds of cases, and basically, without an attorney, you may not be guided correctly. And social security, they really can’t, you know, develop your record the way that we can.

We’re also local. So there are a lot of firms that are all over the country and they might not know that, you know, so and so is with Stony Brooks, who aren’t familiar with the doctor’s offices. We develop your record completely so that it’s ready for the hearing. We know exactly what to get. We follow up. If we have to, we’ll let you know if there’s an issue. So that’s just a service that you wouldn’t get from not only a lot of other firms but definitely not without an attorney.

Interviewer: Right. So obviously one of the benefits of having an attorney help you with your case, well, there are a few benefits, first of all, to have a local attorney, like you said, because we know it’s a federal benefit. And you can call attorneys in all different states, but it’s nice to have the contact.

And I know we personally do have contact with our clients locally, you know, in terms of dropping off records. If they have to fill out paperwork and they feel overwhelmed, they can come in and sit down and go over it. But the benefit, I guess, is that it really ensures a very smooth process in a very overwhelming process for people.

Kim: Yeah. I mean, I think that we really provide a lot of support. I know my clients. I talk to them so much that I actually know their doctors better than they do. So when, you know, someone calls and they say, “I went to Dr. So-and-so,” you’re not getting a call center or someone that doesn’t know your case.

When you’re assigned to someone, if you come to us at initial, we have you from initial through the hearing. So it’s really nice to have that support and someone assigned to your case that’s gonna stay with you the whole time. And that’s just something that I feel like our firm does really well. We have a lot of contact with our clients. It’s not, you know, you’re never gonna call and we’re not gonna know who you are if you’re assigned to us.

Interviewer: That’s great. And like you said, the process has been going well in terms of the hearings on the phone. It’s been going smoothly, right?

Kim: Yeah. So I love it actually, because the local hearing office, you know, the hearing rooms are on the seventh floor, not second. They’re on the seventh floor. You know, it’s uncomfortable waiting around if the judge is behind. It also a lot of times our clients have anxiety, so it makes it worse having to go into the hearing office in a big courthouse. It’s intimidating. So I really love that our clients get to have their hearings, you know, from the comfort of their own home. We haven’t had any issues, not one.

Interviewer: That’s great.

Kim: We haven’t had, you know, disconnections. And if we do, you know, our attorneys have been before these judges plenty of times, so we can easily get connected again because we know them. So, you know, it really has gone off very smoothly.

Interviewer: That’s great. And I know, like you said, one of the main things is that we all know that most of the judges have completely reviewed the medical record, and the hearing is kind of like a thing where they just wanna ask some questions and confirm some things. Correct?

Kim: Of course. So even if somebody walks into their hearing and they’re in a wheelchair and they look terrible, if they don’t have medical records, they still can’t get approved. The only thing that matters with social security is the medical records, and any money that you made after you filed your claim. So those are really the only two things and you don’t actually have to be in person, you know, to have those documents.

Interviewer: Okay, great. So that’s good to know because especially like going forward in these times of COVID. And, you know, also people who are disabled are concerned about, like you said, being mobile, being able to get out. So it’s nice that they can do this in the comfort of their own home and have the file fully prepared by us before the hearing, which puts their mind at ease.

Kim: Of course, yeah.

Interviewer: Great.

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