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Can a Congressional Inquiry Really Help Your Disability Case?
People often get confused about what a congressional inquiry is, what its purpose is, when it should be done, and what it can achieve. Let's start off immediately by stating what a congressional inquiry on a social security disability or SSI disability case will not do. It will not, simply by itself, get you approved for benefits.
I say that because I have seen many statements from individuals who have been approved for SSD or SSI benefits who A) had had a inquiry done on their case by their district congressman or one of their senators and B) had later gotten a notice of approval.
Naturally, they connected those two things and assumed there was a causal relationship. However, speaking as a former disability examiner, I can state that inquiries do not cause cases to be approved. They can, of course, unblock logjams and get cases moving much faster on the road to approval, and this fact can certainly make them worth doing.
What is a congressional inquiry? The simplest way to define this is to say that if a claimant contacts the office of their congressman or senator when they have a pending claim for disability benefits, someone in that office will do a status check on the individual's case.
What is the nature of the status check? It may involve a phone call from the politician's office. When I was a disability examiner, it usually meant receiving a written notice from the politician's office asking for the status of the disability case.
How much effect did these inquiries have on an application for disability or a request for reconsideration appeal when it was received? NONE. Let me repeat: NONE.
Why? Because when an inquiry is done at those levels, there really isn't any impact that the inquiry can make?. It can't influence the outcome of the case because that is dependent on what the claimant's medical records have to say about the claimant's functional limitations. It can't influence how long a case takes because, most often, that is dependent on how long it takes the examiner to get the medical records gathered.
What usually happens to congressional inquiries when they are received when a case is at one of the first two levels? It usually just gets filed away.
At the social security hearing level, a congressional inquiry will also not have an effect on the outcome of the case. Judges for disability claims make their own decisions and they are not subject to having politicians influence them. But...a congressional inquiry can still have a tremendous impact on a case that is pending at the hearing level by getting the case moved much further up on the schedule.
I should explain by stating that after a request for hearing has been made, it can take many months, sometimes over a year and a half to get the hearing date scheduled. Obviously, for individuals who are unable to work and have no income, this is just another ridiculously long wait, particularly when their case has already been in the system for, perhaps, more than a year.
This, of course, is where a congressional inquiry can have a clear impact. When a hearing office receives such an inquiry, there is a favorable chance that the case will be scheduled sooner, especially if the claimant has a dire need situation and is danger of losing their residence or access to needed medications.
So, to sum up the answer to the question, yes, a congressional inquiry can help a case immensely. But it is far more likely to have that effect at the hearing level. And by this time, most claimants will have disability representation (it is generally unwise to appear before an administrative law judge without proper case preparation and good representation in the form of a disability attorney or non-attorney claimant's representative), so the request for the inquiry can be made by their disability representative.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
How can you speed up a Social Security Disability case?
Dire Need and Getting a Social Security Disability or SSI Case Speeded Up
Speeding up the Request for a Social Security Hearing - Documentation that is needed
Getting your medical records can help speed up your disability case
Can I get my Social Security Disability Hearing Request Expedited, Speeded up?
The Time Involved on a Social Security Disability Decision
Can a Lawyer Speed Up My Disability Case?
Can a Congressional Inquiry Really Help to speed up Your Disability Case?
Social Security Disability, ongoing education, and going to school?
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria