Speeding up the Social Security Disability or SSI Claim Process

Some take the position that there is no way of speeding up a Social Security Disability or SSI claim. After all, claimants have no control over how much time it takes for a disability examiner to arrive at a decision on their case, and they likewise have no control over the following:

A) How much time it takes for an independent physician to get a report of their findings from a CE (consultative examination) back to the disability examiner.

B) Whether or not a case will be deferred for several months because a claimant had a medical event (e.g. a stroke) or a procedure (eye surgery, incidence of a heart attack) that necessitated this.

C) How long it took a local social security office to forward an appeal to Disability Determination Services where it would be assigned to a disability examiner for decision processing.

All these things are true and so it is tempting to say that claimants have no means of mediating how long the disability claim process takes. However, there actually are ways to speed up the process if you view the avoidance of certain mistakes as ways to speed the disability claim process along.

So, here's a list of mistakes to avoid that, typically, consume valuable time in a needless fashion.

1. If you get a notice from a disability examiner stating that you should go to a CE (a consultative medical examination conducted by a private practice physician who is being paid by SSA to render such services, otherwise known colloquially as a social security medical exam), go to the appointment.

If you miss the CE appointment for a valid reason, you can certainly ask for a rescheduled appointment. But it could add weeks of time to your case. As a disability examiner, I found that too high a percentage of applicants tended to miss their appointments, and this made for needless delays. Some applicants will even miss multiple appointments (which is why some doctors who perform CEs simply drop out of the program).

2. If you get denied on a disability claim, get the appeal filed IMMEDIATELY. Yes, claimants have two months from the date of the denial in which to do this. But why add time to your case? There's no rational reason for waiting 10 days before the deadline to get an appeal submitted, either on paper forms or online. Getting the appeal submitted immediately versus waiting right before the deadline is the same as...speeding up your case.

Note: if you have a disability attorney, make sure they take the same approach. I have seen some practitioners make a habit (though, in all honesty, this was the result of the lackadaisical habits of their support staff) of sending in appeals right before the expiration of the appeal deadline. You don't want this. Think about it: you're paying someone to handle your case--you're not paying someone to handle it in a way that makes your claim take longer than it should.

3. If you get a notice from a disability examiner requesting that you contact them, or you get a form in the mail from an examiner (such as an activities of daily living questionaire), respond quickly. Believe it or not, as slow as cases seem to get processed, disability examiners would really prefer to get those cases dispensed with sooner. Simply because they are evaluated, in part, based on their processing speed. So, complying with information requests can be a good way of helping the decision-maker to move as quickly as he or she can.

4. Here's the biggest one on this short list of mistakes to avoid: if you get denied, don't let your case simply die because you have failed to submit an appeal.

Some individuals do this and then, months later, decide to file a new claim. This amounts to a catastrophic waste of valuable time. Many individuals whose claims "go silent" for lack of action on a disability application could actually, in that same time span, have gotten through the reconsideration appeal stage and have had a request for hearing on record.

To address the topic with which we began, yes, there are ways of speeding up the process. And the best way to speed it up is to avoid costly, time-consuming errors.

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.

Most popular topics on

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Can I get my Social Security Disability Hearing Request Expedited, Speeded up?
Your disability attorney can attempt to speed up the scheduling of your case
How can you speed up a Social Security Disability case?
Dire Need and Getting a Social Security Disability or SSI Case Speeded Up
What is the process for approving a Social Security Disability claim?
When does a case go to the Social Security Disability review board?
How long will an SSI or SSDI disability claim take?
Using a lawyer to potentially speed up the disability appeal process
Speeding up the Social Security Disability or SSI Claim Process
Social Security Award Letter and being due a substantial back pay amount
Reasons to get a representative who specializes in disability claims only
When you apply for Social Security Disability should you send copies of your xrays?
Getting approved for disability based on being blind
How to answer questions at a Social Security Disability CE examination
What disability claimants get angry about - Part II
How does Social Security consider pain?

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Who is eligible for SSI disability?
How to get disability in Florida