Can you speed up a disability claim?

Can you avoid having a Social Security Disability claim drag on?

Disability cases tend to go fairly slow. Even if a claim is approved at the initial claim, or disability application, level, a decision may take the cited average of 90-120 days, or it may in some extreme cases take up to a year (variables accounting for this include the need for multiple consultative examinations, difficulty getting medical records gathered, possibly having to defer action on a case when a claimant has had a certain type of surgery, or has suffered a heart attack or stroke).

And, unfortunately, most claims are not approved at the application level, but, instead, must proceed through the reconsideration appeal phase and then proceed to a hearing where an administrative law judge will make a decision on the claim.

In other words, most cases will take many months before a person can hope to receive a disability award. That said, a person filing for disability can assist their case by not doing anything that can potentially slow the process. Here is a short list of things to do that may help to avoid unnecessary time spent on a case.

1. Consider submitting medical records with your disability application versus submitting the application only. The wait for medical records (disability examiners request your records and then "shelve" your case" while they wait on the records) consumes a huge chunk of time in the processing of a Social Security Disability or SSI case. However, if you choose to do this, make sure you not only submit older records, but your most recent records as well. If you fail to submit your most recent records, the examiner may be forced to send off for your records regardless of what you've provided with your application.

2. Complete your disability application completely. In other words, supply information (regarding your condition, doctors, and places of treatment) that is a. correct and b. sufficiently detailed. Incomplete (or worse, inaccurate) information can cause a disability case to "sit longer" than one for which complete and accurate information has been provided.

3. Comply with requests from the Social Security office or the disability examiner who is handling your case. Meaning: if you get a letter asking you to respond with certain information, respond quickly. If you get a notice requesting your presence at a medical exam, make sure you keep the appointment. Failing to submit requested information or attend a scheduled medical examination can delay your case, and, in some cases, provide justification for a denial.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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