No answer on disability case; should I call to check on it?

"I am close to age 55 and have worked since I was in high school. Uncontrolled hypertension and a history of severe back pain with multiple surgeries including removal of a disc. Applied for disability in January but no answer yet. Should I be concerned? Should I call them to check on my case, or should I get a lawyer to do it for me? Will SS respond faster or better to a lawyer?"

You should contact Social Security and check the status of your disability claim. It is always possible that Social Security has already made a decision and for one reason or another you have not received your decisional notice. Your question is difficult to answer without knowing if Social Security has been in contact with you throughout these months or if you have had to attend consultative examinations.

There are many things that may prolong the length of time it takes to get an answer. It could be as simple as that the disability examiner assigned to your disability claim has left the disability processing agency and their disability cases have been reassigned. Once reassigned, perhaps additional development may have been necessary to get current medical information (anything over ninety days old is not considered current for Social Security purposes). All disability claims need current medical information for a decision. Consultative examinations also add to the overall processing times of disability claims.

As to your question of whether or not Social Security responds quicker or better to a lawyer: having a lawyer does not, by itself, does not speed up the processing of a claim. However, it certainly does not hurt to have your representative check the status of your disability claim. As the saying goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease".

The best suggestion I can give you at this point is to contact Social Security and at least make sure your disability claim is still active. If a decision has been made, your appeal period is tied to the date of your decisional notice, so you need to know if your disability claim has been denied.

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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