Once you are considered disabled by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) standards, meaning you will be disabled for at least one year or until death and you can’t sustain gainful employment, it can takes months to years for Social Security disability (SSD) benefit approval. In the meantime, you might find it challenging to make ends meet, since you can work while waiting to hear if your claim is approved or denied. But you can’t make more than $1,310/month (or $2,190 if you’re blind). If your paychecks go above this amount, the SSA might view it as “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) that negates your need for SSDI. Therefore, you might be wondering if there’s a way to speed up the hearing process, especially since most letters received after requesting a hearing state that it will take place between 12 and 18 months from then.
Three Ways to Speed Up Your Disability Hearing
The good news is that there are three possible ways to speed up the process and potentially get your hearing scheduled for a sooner date:
Option 1: Request An On the Record Review From Your Disability Hearing Judge
One way to get your disability hearing scheduled faster is to request an on the record (OTR) review. This is a good option if you’ve submitted substantial medical evidence that proves your disability status beyond a reasonable doubt. First, you or your representative should ask the SSD hearing office to review your file or record before the disability hearing date. The goal with an OTR review is to secure claim approval without appearing before an ALJ in court. Keep in mind that in order to get an OTR review, your medical records must be highly compelling. You can request OTR reviews through the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in your state.
Option 2: Submit A Dire Need Letter
Another way to speed up the process is to submit a dire need letter to the SSA. Use this letter to explain the severity of your financial circumstances. (For example: If you’re losing the ability to pay for your medications or are facing foreclosure/eviction.) In these cases, the ODAR may grant you an expedited disability hearing. Any evidence of dire need should be provided with the letter, including late payment notices from mortgage companies, landlords and utility companies. Dire need letters must include all details about immediate threats regarding your shelter, food and health.
Option 3: Demand A Congressional Inquiry
The third method for speeding up your disability hearing date is to contact your local congressperson or senator’s office. This interaction will sometimes lead to a congressional inquiry. In other words, a staff member calls or writes the SSA hearing office on your behalf asking to move up your hearing date. Keep in mind this doesn’t guarantee a faster disability hearing, but it can’t hurt to try. In many cases, it can be beneficial to you, so it’s often worth the effort.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Going through the application process for Social Security disability benefits can be long and confusing. In order to have your best chance of approval, you may want to consider contacting an advocate or attorney specializing in Social Security disability cases. These professionals can help you determine your best option for a faster disability hearing. In addition, a disability lawyer can suggest other ways to improve your chances for winning SSDI benefits. Haven’t yet submitted your claim? Learn how to apply for Social Security disability.