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How to Get an Expedited Decision for Your Social Security Disability Claim

A long backlog for Social Security Disability (SSD) claims means that people are waiting for months or even years to find out whether they qualify for compensation. In the meantime, many claimants, who are unable to work, struggle to afford basic living expenses, lose their homes and savings, and go without medical treatment.

Certain types of disability claims, however, are processed more quickly. Graham & Graham’s SSD lawyers can evaluate your claim and determine whether it meets the Social Security Administration’s “critical case” criteria for an expedited review process.

Ohio Social Security Disability Hearing Wait Times Exceed One Year

Social Security Administration budget cuts, along with a rise in the number of Americans filing disability claims, have resulted in an application process bottleneck.

Typically, once a claim for benefits is filed, Social Security makes an initial decision within three to five months, according to the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR). But NOSSCR notes that only about one-third of SSD claims are approved at the initial level.

Applicants whose claims are initially denied can request “reconsideration” or a re-evaluation of the case. About ninety percent of reconsideration decisions—which take about four months—result in a second denial, says NOSSCR.

At this stage, applicants twice denied benefits can request an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. Unfortunately, the average wait time for a hearing is long.

While processing times vary by hearing office, NOSSCR reports that the national wait time for an ALJ hearing is around 600 days. Data from the Social Security Administration shows that in Columbus and Akron, Ohio, claimants wait an average of 17 months. The average wait times in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dayton are 18 months, 14 months, and 16 months, respectively.

Critical Cases and Expedited Processing

For claimants with health problems and little to no income, two years or more is simply too long to wait for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration recognizes this and offers special, expedited processing for certain cases that it deems “critical.”

There are six types of critical cases that Social Security will process more quickly than usual:

  • Terminal Illness: The claimant’s illness is deemed to be untreatable, irreversible, and expected to end in death.
  • Disabled Veterans: The claimant is a military veteran with a 100% permanent and total disability compensation rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Wounded Warriors: The claim involves a current or former military member who suffered an illness, injury, or wound during active duty.
  • Compassionate Allowances (CAL): To qualify for the CAL process, the claimant must have a condition that meets certain medical criteria.
  • Dire Need Cases (DRND): A dire need situation exists when a claimant is without food, medical care, or shelter.
  • Potentially Violent: This is a designation for claimants who have a probable risk of suicidal or homicidal action.

Regional Social Security offices are responsible for designating critical cases. A critical situation can be claimed, while the case is pending, through a written statement, a telephone contact, or an office visit. Every case filed as critical must have supporting evidence such as medical records, military service records, and financial records.

Find Out if You Have a Critical SSD Case

Graham & Graham provides assistance at all phases of the claims process, including filing an initial claim, an appeal, or a hearing.  There are a number of ways we can help you avoid waiting years to get a final decision, such as obtaining a “critical” designation and requesting an on-the-record decision or attorney advisor opinion prior to a disability hearing.

To discuss your SSD claim with an attorney, free of charge, please contact Graham & Graham.