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 $1,350/month (or $2,260 if you’re blind) in 2022. 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 12-18 months in the future.
Three Ways to Speed Up Your Disability Hearing
The good news is, there are three possible ways to speed up the process and potentially get your hearing scheduled faster:
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 submitted substantial medical evidence proving your disability status beyond a reasonable doubt. First, ask the SSD hearing office to review your file or record before the disability hearing date. (You can also have your attorney make this request on your behalf.) 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 your financial circumstances mean you need immediate help. (For example: If you’re unable to pay for required medications or facing foreclosure/eviction.) In these cases, the ODAR may grant you an expedited disability hearing. You should also provide any dire need evidence along with the letter, including:
- Late payment notices from utility companies
- Eviction letters or notices from your landlord
- Mortgage foreclosure documents from your bank or home loan lender
- All relevant details regarding immediate threats to your shelter, food, or 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 benefit 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 nearly triple your chances for getting benefits. Haven’t yet submitted your claim? Learn how to apply for Social Security disability.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.