Denied Twice for Disability, Will a Congressman be Able to Help?

A questioner wrote the following: "I've been turned down twice and I've been told my next appeal will take even longer. Is there anyone who can help on this? Should I write my congressman?"

It sounds as though your claim may be at the level of a disability hearing before an administrative law judge (you said you had been denied twice and I am assuming you are referring to a denial on an initial claim and a second denial on a request for reconsideration, which is the first appeal available to claimants).

If this is the case, contacting a congressman can have some potential benefits. This would be known as a congressional inquiry and it is conducted by a staff person at a congressman's office. Basically, it simply means that the staffer will contact the hearing office to check the status of a pending request for a hearing.

I've seen situations where this can have a favorable effect on the time it takes to schedule a hearing, which, without a doubt, is the one step in the disability evaluation process that consumes the most precious time (I say precious because so many applicants for disability wind up teetering on the financial brink at some point due to the fact that the process is so ridiculously long).

Should you contact a congressman's office if your claim is not at the hearing level, but, say, at the initial claim or reconsideration level? I wouldn't dissuade someone from doing this but, thus far, I haven't really seen evidence that this is helpful or productive. At the hearing level it can potentially move the scheduling of a hearing along faster.

You should also keep in mind that no politician will be able to exert any influence whatsoever on the outcome of a claim. There seems to be a myth out there that this can be done; however, if this was the case then the federal disability system would quickly devolve into something very corrupt and lacking any integrity. So, in brief, no, a congressman cannot help you "win" disability; he or she can typically only move a hearing request through the system faster.

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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