As noted recently, the average processing times for Social Security Disability and SSI hearings continue to grow at hearing offices across the country. Claimants are getting increasingly desperate as the wait times increase. When I first meet with someone about SSD or SSI, I always try to be upfront and honest about the length of time involved. Invariably, the question is asked about "moving my case up" or expediting the case. The Social Security Administration will only expedite a case if it meets its "critical situation" requirements.
The SSA recognizes five situations that warrant expedited processing. Those are:
- The claimant is suffering from a terminal illness (TERI case);
- 100% service-connected disabled veterans or the 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;
- The claimant's file is flagged as a Compassionate Allowance case. The list of qualifying impairments can be found at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/.
- The claimant is without, and is unable to obtain, food, medicine or shelter (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. The claimant must allege specific, immediate circumstances: (1) lack of food (i.e., without and unable to obtain food), (2) lack of medicine or medical care (e.g., the claimant expresses that he/she needs medicine/medical care but is without and unable to obtain it; the claimant does not have any health insurance, or indicates that access to necessary medical care is restricted because of lack of resources), and/or (3) lack of shelter (e.g., shut-off of utilities such that home is uninhabitable, homelessness, expiration of shelter stay, or imminent eviction or foreclosure with no means to remedy the situation or obtain shelter).
- There is an indication that the claimant is suicidal or homicidal.
Often clients ask, "Can my Congressperson call and get my hearing set?" Unfortunately, a congressional inquiry will not get a claim expedited unless one of the five critical situations noted above are present. Obviously, this makes sense because if it all it took to get a case expedited was a congressional inquiry then everyone would do it and we would be in the same situation. However, if one of the five critical situations is present and the SSA is not expediting the matter, then a congressional inquiry may be just the trick.
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI, personal injury, EEOICPA, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout Tennessee.