How can I get a faster decision?

Clients often ask me if there’s anything I can do to speed up the long slow process of social security disability.

Sometimes clients tell me about their friend or neighbor: “His lawyer knew a way to get him a quick answer” or “His lawyer must know someone at the Social Security Administration because he got a hearing in just a few months”. 

Let’s be clear on one thing – everyone’s case is different.  But when it comes to speeding up the process, here’s what makes a difference in the speed with which a claimant gets an answer.

Reason #1:  Where you live.  It is well documented that length of time for processing a claim at initial and at reconsideration and for getting a hearing scheduled varies widely.  Want to be quickly considered?  Move to Hawaii.  Want it to take a really long time?  Live in Ohio.  For those of us in Oregon, the average wait for a hearing is currently 400 days.

Reason #2:  Whether you qualify for expedited processing of your claim.  The Social Security Administration has provided five situations that qualify:

1.   Your illness is terminal; or
2.      Your case involves a disability claim for any military service personnel injured October 1, 2001 or later regardless of how or where the disability occurred, whether in the United States or on foreign soil, provided that the individual was on active duty when the injury occurred; or
3.   The claimant’s file is flagged as a Compassionate Allowance case, that is your condition is qualifies by being one of those listed under; or
4.      You are without food, medicine or shelter, also known as dire need;
A dire need situation exists when a person has insufficient income or resources to meet an immediate threat to health or safety, such as the lack of food, clothing, shelter or medical care.
5.      There is an indication that you are suicidal or homicidal.

Reason #3:  Your case is strong enough that an On-the-Record Brief may bring a quick resolution.  In my next blog post, I’ll explain how that works – and why it doesn’t work for everyone.