East Tennessee Social Security Disability attorneys and their respective clients are facing times of uncertainty. Prior to the end of February 2020, the biggest developments out of the Social Security Administration seemed to be the changing of the rules regarding non-English speaking claimants and the move by the Trump Administration to increase reviews of current recipients of disability benefits. However, as the Covid-19 has shut-down much of East Tennessee, many social security claimants and recipients are asking how the Covid-19 outbreak can or will affect the social security application process in East Tennessee.
With Knoxville issuing a “Safer at Home” edict on March 23, 2020, the good news is that our office can remain open to serve our greater Knoxville area clients. We are, out of an abundance of caution, implementing procedures such as online consultations and telephone consultations in order to serve our clients in a safe manner. Our staff remains fully dedicated to working our social security disability cases which, with the implementation of efiles, we can do from anywhere in the world. The Social Security Administration Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) will shift to full-time telework this week. The Social Security Administration closed its filed offices to the public last week. There are positives and negatives to the Social Security Administration’s response to Covid-19. The positive is that the administration will remain functional on some level which will continue to permit the processing of social security disability claims. A big question that is seemingly unanswered is what happens at the DDS level (“Disability Determination Services”)? DDS are state agencies that are funded by the US federal government. Their purpose is to make disability findings for the Social Security Administration. The functionality of DDS on a state by state level is questionable given the telework order. Another negative is that the Social Security Administration has been pushing for hearings to be held solely by video-hearing – an effort that most social security attorneys see as detrimental to claimants and with the ability to hold hearings via telephone and video this may weaken the social security attorneys’ position that hearings need to be held in person.
Our firm is here to answer your questions, walk you through the social security process and lead you to a positive outcome. All social security consultations are free. Please call us at 865-233-1105 to schedule your appointment.