Don't Move While your Social Security Disability Case is being worked on?

I recently visited a forum for injured first line responders (fireman and police officers) and one of the forum members tossed out this piece of advice for individuals filing for disability. He said (paraphrasing) "If your case is currently being worked on, stay put, put off your move till its done".

The problem with that piece of Social Security Disability advice, however, is that a Social Security Disability decision can take literally years. That is, if you assume that an individual will be denied on the disability application and then have to appeal.

So, let's address the question. Should you move while your SSD case or SSI case is still pending? As a former disability examiner for the social security administration, and as a former social services caseworker, this is a question I've addressed numerous times.

First of all, if you're moving from one city or county to another within the same state, this will have absolutely no bearing or effect on your disability case. That's because SSD and SSI are federal programs and, as such, they are standardized across the nation. So, moving within your own state won't have any effect on your disability claim.

I can understand the concern as to why it might, however. With programs that exist at local departments of social services (which has nothing to do with social security), moving can involve special requirements. For example, I was once a food stamp program caseworker, and moving from one county to another meant that a benefit recipient had to report the move and set up an entirely new case file in their new county of residence.

To reiterate, with Social Security Disability and SSI, moving within your state of residence has no effect. What about moving from one state to another?

Once again, these programs are federal and uniform, so there should be no concern if your case is being worked on at the disability application level, or the reconsideration level.

What happens if you do move? You need to report the move to the social security field office where you applied. They, in turn, will notify the state agency where your disability claim is being processed (known in most states as DDS, or disability determination services) so the claim claim can be transferred to the disability processing agency in your new state of residence.

What if you move while your case is at the hearing office and you are waiting on a disability hearing to be scheduled? This is where the issue becomes a bit cloudy. Technically, if you move out of state and your claim is pending at a hearing office in your original state of residence, you still need to notify the social security administration that you have moved.

You should also notify the hearing office (ODAR, office of disability adjudication and review) that you have moved since they will need to transfer your claim to the new hearing office in your new state of residence that will now have jurisdiction over your case.

However, some claimants will choose not to do so. And this is understandable. Because when your file is pending at a social security hearing office, it is basically in a queue, a line, and it is waiting to be scheduled for a hearing. There are cases ahead of it and there are cases behind it. Moving your case from one hearing office to another takes it out of that line and puts it into another line, possibly near the very back.

If you move, should you willingly choose not to disclose this fact so that you can "avoid" losing your place in line"? You could. However, if you choose this route when your hearing is scheduled you will have to travel back to your original state of residence to attend your hearing.

And, of course, there is a risk. When you show up at your hearing with new medical records from your new doctors in your new state of residence, the administrative law judge will probably notice that you have moved. He or she may decide that your case is no longer within the jurisidiction of that particular hearing office and refuse to hear your case.

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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