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Techniques attorneys use to reduce disability hearing wait times

Many residents of New Albany and others who live on the Indiana side of the Louisville metro area probably have heard in the news that many people get denied Social Security benefits for disability even when they have a good case and were very careful about filling out the required paperwork. These same people also probably recognize that, for Social Security disability claims, it takes a long time, sometimes years, to get the denial appealed to an administrative law judge for review.

To a great degree, until national politics changes such that more priority is given to solving the Social Security Administration's notorious backlog, the wait time will simply be a fact of life and something disabled Hoosiers and their attorneys will just have to work around. However, there are some techniques disability attorneys can use in an effort to speed up the hearing process.

One technique is to submit a dire need letter on behalf of the person seeking benefits. The Social Security Administration gives priority consideration to those who have what they call a "dire need" for a quick decision. A "dire need" means a person is going to lose his or her home or necessary medical care if he or she does not get benefits soon. In other words, its for situations in which a delayed decision is effectively a denial.

Although it rarely hurts to submit a letter explaining one's dire need, the Administration has no obligation to push the hearing forward. Moreover, an attorney is not going to draft a dire need letter unless his or her client really has a dire need, as defined by the Administration, and can also back that claim up with documentation.

An attorney may also choose to request a review of a denied claim "on the record," meaning there is no need for the judge to hold a hearing. At this point, the judge will simply look at the documentation that has been submitted in the case and make a decision. This technique is best reserved for situations in which a person has a strong case, however. Otherwise, the risk is that the judge will give an unfavorable decision, and the person applying for benefits will not have an opportunity to tell his or her side of the story.

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The Law Office of Nick Stein

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