Tips to Shorten the Length of Time for a Disability Decision
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, there is no way to determine how long you will have to wait for a decision. The average applicant waits anywhere from three months to a year. However, if your claim requires reconsideration reviews and appeal hearings, your wait may be even longer.
Although there is no way to guarantee a quick determination, there are steps you can take to increase your likelihood of receiving a decision sooner.
Thoroughly Document Your Claim
Support your application with relevant and recent medical evidence. Thorough medical documentation will provide the SSA with proof of your medical condition and your inability to work. If your records are comprehensive and accurate, it is less likely that the SSA will need to take additional time to make further inquiries about your condition—therefore shortening your wait time.
Quickly Address the SSA’s Requests
It is not uncommon for the SSA to request further information from applicants in order to make a determination. If you receive any request from the SSA, whether is be an evaluation of your “activities of daily living” or a request for further medical records, it is important to respond in a timely manner to. Doing so will prevent additional delays.
Keep the SSA Updated
If you decide to move or change phone numbers, it is important to inform SSA of contact information changes as soon as possible. Failure to update your address or phone number can prevent you from receiving requests for more details, and in some instances, may even lead to the dismissal of your claim due to your “failure” to cooperate with a request.
Attend Required Exams
The SSA often requires that applicants undergo independent evaluations conducted by a physician or psychologist. Attend any consultative physical exams or psychological evaluations as required by the SSA. Failing to do so will only lead to delays in the processing of your claim, and may even result is dismissal of your application entirely.
Get Help if You Need It
It’s a good idea to seek help with your application or any follow-up forms you receive from the SSA. Claimants with an attorney or advocate often receive a disability determination sooner and have a stronger chance of being approved for benefits. An attorney or advocate can help you identify any inconsistencies and/or missing information on your forms. Such issues in your submissions can present the SSA with further questions that must be answered before a decision can be made.
Understand the Process
Although these tips can potentially shorten your wait for a disability decision, you must understand that, to a certain extent, the amount of time it takes for your claim to be reviewed is outside your control. The SSA has its processes and is also faced with funding, staffing and other challenges. All of these things can lead to delays in processing.
Be Realistic about the Claims Process
While you likely need a decision sooner rather than later, the claims process will take some time. The more you understand the SSA’s processes and procedures, the more realistically you can approach the wait for a determination on your eligibility. Of course, it is important be persistent in your pursuit for SSD benefits.
Follow Up with the SSA as Needed
If too much time passes and you’ve heard nothing from the SSA, contact them to check on the status of your claim. If you’ve secured help from an advocate or attorney, they can also periodically check on where your claim stands. Sometimes a little push from you or your attorney can move your claim forward.
Submitted by: Molly Clarke