Waiting for an administrative law judge to rule on your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim can be quite long. Sadly, as reported by the inspector general for the Social Security Administration (SSA), in 2016, 7,400 claimants died while waiting for a ruling on their cases.
The average wait time for million-plus Americans awaiting their hearings is two years. Some areas of the country have shorter wait times, and others can be even longer.
Can you speed up the process?
Sometimes. The more dire your circumstances, the quicker your case could be heard. Those who may qualify for an expedited hearing include:
- Wounded veterans
- Those living without utilities
- Claimants living in shelters or vehicles
- Those staying with relatives/friends
- Terminally ill claimants
- Those who are suicidal
While you aren't required to retain an attorney to file for Social Security Disability, it's usually best to do so to make sure that your application is filed correctly. It's also wise to begin the process as soon as there is a need rather than delaying it. If your condition improves, you can return to work and withdraw your application.
Being proactive and gathering and managing your medical records is also important. Don't leave out anything that is germane to your case. If your doctor is retiring and closing his or her practice, make sure that you arrange to get copies of your chart before the business is shut down.
You should also realize that initial claims are denied frequently and must be appealed. That process can also be lengthy, so anything that you can do to move your case along should be done.
Source: Star-Telegram, "Steps to take if you’re mired in the Social Security disability process," Jeff Caplan, Dec. 08, 2017