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The Social Security List of Impairments
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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.








Essential Questions

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Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state



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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?
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Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Florida?
Permanent Social Security Disability in Florida



These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?









For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.