We previously shared information about procedures that the Social Security Administration (SSA) had put into place to make it safer for claimants, the public and their staff during the current pandemic. In that post, we explained that only telephonic administrative law judge (ALJ) hearings were available until the agency decides to resume in-person hearings, but that it planned to start Internet-based video hearings in the fall. As of this writing on Dec. 4, the SSA has not yet announced when video hearings will become an option.
What has the IWCC done?
Today, we will provide similar information about the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) and its steps to make the worker’s compensation application, review and appeals processes safer in response to the novel coronavirus.
On its website, the IWCC has posted a public notice that “[u]ntil further notice, all in person [h]earings, of any kind, have been DISCONTINUED … at ALL venues.” The agency may still hold some of these matters virtually, including potentially:
- Virtual review status call hearings
- Virtual pre-trial conferences
- Virtual oral arguments
- Virtual arbitration monthly status calls
- Virtual Pro Se settlements
The IWCC hopes to schedule in-person hearings in the new year, but that seems optimistic with the current infection rates.
EMERGENCY EXCEPTION FOR IN-PERSON HEARINGS
The IWCC is allowing some in-person hearings in emergencies or because of special circumstances. The agency will require masking and social distancing. In emergency matters, an emergency arbitrator will first vet the emergency through a virtual pretrial conference.
There are detailed procedural requirements for some of these temporary arrangements.
The situation is in flux
These IWCC emergency procedures could change at any time, but for now, seem to be in place through December. We will keep readers updated on IWCC and SSA COVID-19 responses as information becomes available.