Tips to Get Your Social Security Disability Hearing Scheduled Faster
If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits and decide to proceed to the next stage of the application process—the appeal hearing—it is likely that you have already spent several months pursuing disability benefits. Living with a disabling condition poses certain financial and medical burdens that make it difficult to wait for benefits.
Many factors that slow appeal hearings are out of the claimant’s control. Factors that can delay appeal hearings include the availability of your administrative law judge, lack of funding, or administrative issues. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that may help speed up the process.
Submit a “Dire Need” Letter
The first step to having your appeal hearing held sooner is to submit a “Dire Need” letter to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). A “Dire Need” request gives you the chance to inform the ODAR of circumstances that require your claim to be reviewed sooner. If you make a strong argument, the ODAR can potentially expedite the scheduling of an appeal hearing.
The ODAR will likely consider your request in the following circumstances:
- You are in danger of foreclosure or eviction
- You are in danger of losing access to medications or other needed medical treatments or care
- You are in danger of losing utilities (gas, electricity, water)
Your “Dire Need” letter must include a detailed explanation of your unique circumstances and supporting documentation of your claims. Include copies of correspondence from your landlord, mortgage company, utility service providers, or medical doctors.
Request a Congressional Inquiry
Another means of expediting the scheduling of a disability appeal hearing is to request a congressional inquiry. To facilitate an inquiry, you must contact the office of your local senator or congressperson and request that they intervene with the ODAR on your behalf.
A congressional inquiry requires that your senator or representative contact the ODAR to request that your hearing be scheduled sooner. Such communication from an elected official can sometimes get your hearing moved up a few months, or it may do absolutely nothing. In any event it won’t negatively impact your eligibility for disability benefits.
Submit an “On-the-Record Review” Request
Not all denied disability claims proceed to an appeal hearing. In fact, you may be able to receive a final decision on your claim without a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), if you request an on-the-record (OTR) review.
An on-the-record review is a formal request that an ALJ review your claim before the appeal hearing. During an on-the-record review, the ALJ will make a decision on your eligibility based solely on the documentation in your disability file, without attending a hearing.
The evidence in your file must be very compelling in order for this approach to work. In most cases, medical records must indicate that your condition has gotten significantly worse since your last review with the SSA. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait for the hearing to take place to find out if you’re eligible for SSD.
Submitted by: Molly Clarke