Harlan Still & Koch

Can you reduce the appeal wait time for SSD benefits?

A recent previous post here discussed what the Social Security Administration and Congress might do in order to reduce the notoriously long waiting time a disabled person in Boone County, Missouri, will likely face should he or she have to appeal a denial of SSD benefits. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand a disability attorney can wave in order to speed the SSD appeals process up for their clients without fail. Sometimes, it is best just to plan on a long wait to get benefits, since even well-organized and complete applications for benefits get denied frequently.

However, there are a few techniques to try to speed up the time it takes for applicants to get a hearing before an administrative law judge and, hopefully, get benefits shortly thereafter.

One option is to draft what is called a "dire need" letter to the Social Security Administration. A dire need letter does not improve one's chances of getting benefits, but if the letter can demonstrate to the SSA that a person is in danger of losing a house or essential medical care, they may move the application to the top of the stack for an appeal. The reasoning is that to delay on an appeal under such circumstances is effectively the same as refusing to hear an appeal.

Another option, which disability attorneys and their clients need to weigh carefully, is to ask for a review of an application on the record. In other words, the person applying for disability gives up his or her right to a hearing and allows the judge to go through the documents submitted up to that point and make a decision. This will speed up the process. However, the risk is that a judge might deny benefits without having the full story or even hearing personally from the applicant.

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Harlan Still & Koch

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Columbia, MO 65201

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