At the Law Office of Geri N. Kahn we have been helping clients get faster social security disability hearings for more than 30 years. Today we are going to share some tips with you that may help you expedite your case.
It is a long wait to apply and receive disability. Generally, people who apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) are denied twice, first at the initial level and then again at the reconsideration stage. By then a year has passed. The next step to appeal is to request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The waiting times become even longer at this level.
In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office analyzed Social Security data and reported that claimants whose cases were decided in fiscal year 2021 waited an average of 326 days for their hearing decision. While we are now seeing reduced waiting times, the average wait time for a hearing was 595 days in fiscal year 2018, 506 days in fiscal year 2019, and 386 days in fiscal year 2020. As the GAO noted, claimants waiting for a decision may experience a deterioration in their medical or financial situation. Some people die during this time. So, how can you get your hearing scheduled faster? I have a few suggestions.
5 Ways to Get a Faster Social Security Disability Hearing
1. Get Your Social Security Disability Case Flagged as a “Critical Case”
At any time in the appeal process you may get your case flagged as a critical case. The Social Security Administration recognizes the following types of cases as cases which they should expedite:
- Dire Need
- Suicide Threat
- Military casualty/wounded warrior
- Permanently and totally disabled veterans
- Terminal illness
- Compassionate allowances
- Potentially violent
In the same report mentioned above, the GAO reported that after examining the data over the 11-year period they reviewed, hearing offices processed critical cases in a median of 266 days—over 6 months faster than the 469 days for non-critical cases.
In order to get your case flagged, you must notify OHO staff that you meet the criteria. Although not required, you should submit documentation if you have it. Some staff at hearing offices are skeptical that you may meet the critical need requirements unless you have some documentation that can back it up.
2. Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer
It is not going to be enough to submit a critical need request and then expect that OHO will automatically expedite the scheduling of your hearing. You will need to follow up. You will need someone to advocate for you that you meet the criteria for critical need.
Moreover, it is of no use to get a hearing expedited when your case is not ready for a hearing. A lawyer will help you to formulate a strategy, gather the evidence, obtain letters from your doctors, prepare you for a hearing and represent you at the hearing. You need to win your case and you will have a better chance at success with a lawyer’s representation.
3. File an “On the Record” (“OTR”) Request
Your case may be sufficient as it is (or with a lawyer’s assistance), be well documented such that you may request a decision “on the record” based on the evidence that exists in the file. An attorney can help you prepare and file such a request. According to the report mentioned above (p. 10), SSA decided about 40,000 critical cases via the OTR process between fiscal years 2010 and 2020.
4. Waive the 75-day Notice
The judge is required to give you 75 days’ notice of an upcoming hearing. You can file a waiver at OHO indicating that you do not need that much advance notice.
5. Request a Phone Appointment for Your Hearing
While OHO is scheduling “in-person” hearings, you will have a better chance at being scheduled sooner if you request a telephonic hearing. OHO will send you a form and you may indicate your preference on it and send it back.
Now It’s Time to Take Action – Get Your Social Security Disability Case Moved Up Today
You will have a better chance of having your case heard sooner if you hire a lawyer and either get your case flagged as a critical need case or file for an OTR. If these ideas do not work, you can follow the other suggestions of requesting a phone appointment and waiving the 75-day notice. Something will work and you will get your case heard, sooner rather than later!