When you apply for disabilities at your local Georgia social security office, it can take the Social Security Administration (SSA) months, or even years to reach a decision. You may also be initially denied and need to go through multiple appeals to secure your benefits.
You may need those benefits sooner rather than later, and the periods of waiting can seem more difficult to bear than all the paperwork, doctors’ visits, and phone calls.
While there are some ways to potentially speed up the resolution of your case, there is no cure-all for the lengthy periods of waiting.
In most cases, applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is going to take time to resolve.
A qualified disability attorney can help you decide the best course of action for your benefits claim from start to finish. The right attorney can also guide you toward the options, if any, you may have in expediting your case.
There are several conditions that can speed up a Social Security disability claim:
- Dire need
- Certain instances for Veterans
- Having a strong case with a complete medical file that doesn’t require a hearing
- When your doctor is supportive and you follow up often
Whether you’re visiting your Georgia Social Security office or applying for disability benefits online, your case will likely take some time to reach a decision. However, if any portion of your case can be sped up, it will be by one the following methods.
You Have a Dire Need
If you apply for Social Security disability benefits and are initially denied, the next step is to appeal the decision and have your case reconsidered by the SSA. However, if you are initially denied, there’s a high probability your reconsideration will also be denied.
After this, you would appeal to have your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge. But be prepared to exercise patience, because waiting for a hearing can take a year or more.
If you have a dire need for shelter, food, medical resources, or if an extended wait for benefits would create a substantial hardship, you may be able to petition the SSA to speed up a portion of your case.
To be considered in dire need, you must stand out among the many SSDI or SSI claimants who also claim to have a dire need. Dire need is often reserved for those most in danger of hardship, such as someone who is soon to be homeless due to eviction or foreclosure.
At this point, you must submit a “dire need” letter to your local Office of Hearings Operations (OHO).
A Dire Need Letter Should Include . . .
- The conditions of your hardship, with as much detail as possible
- The reasons you can’t wait the normal time for a hearing
- Attached documentation for impending foreclosures or evictions, past due medical bills, utilities shut-off notices, etc.
If approved, your hearing will be expedited and prioritized above cases that don’t qualify for dire need.
You Are a Disabled Veteran
While disabled Veterans can already apply for VA disability benefits, they may sometimes also qualify for Social Security. There are some instances when Veterans can expedite their SSDI or SSI cases.
You must apply for VA disability and Social Security disability benefits separately, and the benefits vary between the different programs.
Through the SSA, there are several initiatives for which Veterans can qualify.
The Wounded Warriors initiative . . . allows Veterans who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs, to expedite their Social Security cases throughout each phase of the process.
Veterans with a VA 100% Permanent and Total disability compensation rating . . . can speed up their case, although this doesn’t guarantee that benefits will be awarded. The applicant must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled: being unable to work and being disabled for one year or until death. In most cases, the SSA automatically recognizes Veterans rated 100 percent P&T, though some applicants may need to provide a VA verification letter.
Other Ways to Expedite Your Case
- Compassionate allowances for those whose conditions qualify under CAL listings
- “Presumptive disability” payments for SSI claimants awaiting a decision
- Certain terminal illnesses expected to result in the claimant’s death
- Requesting an advanced emergency SSI payment
How Your Doctor Can Help
If you don’t qualify for dire need or Veterans’ disability initiatives, you can sometimes expedite your case by providing medical evidence.
Building a complete medical file so you have as strong a case as possible will give you the best possible chance to win your benefits without having to wait for a hearing.
Maintain good relationships with your primary care doctor and any specialists you see for your condition. Follow up often, and make sure they’re prompt in sending records and providing thorough written opinions when requested.
How Your Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help
There’s no sure thing when it comes to your case’s timeline. Regardless of how long it takes, the process can be complicated and arduous. While a qualified disability attorney can’t guarantee an expedited case, they can guide you through your Social Security disability benefits application and subsequent appeals.
The right attorney will have experience in current Social Security law and the expectations of those deciding your case. They can communicate with the SSA and help ensure your claim has the best chance of avoiding delays and of reaching a favorable decision.
If your Supplemental Security Income claim or your Social Security Disability Insurance claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 795-7165.