Calling about a Social Security Disability Case and not getting a call back

This is a very common complaint made by individuals who have a pending disability application or a pending disability appeal. And, ideally, claimants who call social security field offices would always get prompt call backs. However, having worked in various government "cog" capacities and knowing quite a few individuals who still work as cogs at the state, federal, and local level, I know just how tight on time claims reps, caseworkers, and examiners really are.

Social Security claims representatives and disability examiners are extremely busy just taking disability claims, making medical decisions, and processing disability claims to completion. Each year, there are nearly two and half million new disability claims filed, and about sixty percent of these claims are denied. Of the disability claims that are denied, about five hundred and seventy five thousand appeal their decision.

So, you may be thinking what does that have to do with my messages not being responded to promptly (or, let's be honest, at all)? Well, without justifying or rationalizing the obvious deficiencies in the current system, it should still be pointed out that manpower requirements, and maintaining appropriate staff numbers, do not seem to be top priorities for either SSA or DDS.

As each disability examiner and claims representative deals with hundreds of disability applicants and, I think it's safe to say, many thousands of phone calls each year, while at the same trying to process their caseloads, this often leads to...unreturned calls (likewise, this is why disability attorneys with claims counts, or caseloads, of 300 and 400 clients have difficulty returning calls sometimes--the actual work of getting ready for hearings consumes their time, and, even if they have paralegals, it can be difficult to get all calls returned in a timely manner).

Fortunately, most of the time social security field office personnel will eventually return calls (calling and getting return calls from examiners is easier because they have far far less public contact). Moreover, through the course of their job, they will get the appropriate information out to claimants with pending cases.

For example, social Security notifies all disability claimants by letter if their claim has been denied or approved. Additionally, if Social Security needs to obtain more information or schedule a consultative examination, they will contact you by phone and by mail.

Tip: If you need to give important medical information to Social Security, it is better to mail your medical information to your local office, so that the information can be forwarded to the state disability agency. Or leave a message that includes your name, social security number, and also includes your dates of treatment along with the name and address of your treating source (i.e. hospital, another doctor, etc).

In any case, one of the most important things that you can do to facilitate the smooth handling of your disability claim is to make sure that Social Security has a current address and phone number at all times during the decision making process. If Social Security needs any other information or they make a medical decision, they will contact you by mail.

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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