The second most common question asked on our disability forum directly after, “Am I disabled?” is “How can I speed up my SSDI or SSI disability claim?” What claimants are really asking is will this really take two years or is there something I can do to make this process fast and painless.
The bottom line is if you are dealing with the Federal Government the process will never be painless, but there are some things you can do to make sure your SSDI or SSI case is processed as fast as possible. Failure to perform these simple steps can increase your wait time by weeks or months.
How long will it take to process my SSI or SSDI disability case?
One of the most common questions is, “How long will this take to process my SSA disability claim?” Unfortunately the answer really depends on your health condition. The most severe mental or physical health conditions are contained on what the SSA calls their Social Security Administration (SSA) Listing of Impairments (also known as the Blue Book).
If your condition is on this list, assuming you meet the nonmedical criteria for the SSI or SSDI program, you could be awarded benefits immediately. You are, however, still behind a long list of other applications that must be processed and it could still take 30-90 days to receive your SSI or SSDI disability payments.
What if your condition is not on the SSA Listing of Impairments? The process becomes much more difficult. In most cases your SSI or SSDI application will be denied at the initial application level and you will have file an appeal (all appeals must be done within 60 days from the date of the denial letter).
At the appeal stage, which is called a reconsideration in most states, you must have medical evidence that your condition is so severe that you do not have the residual functional capacity to perform substantial gainful activity. This is done through a medical vocational allowance and can be more difficult to prove without the assistance of a disability lawyer.
Steps to expediting your SSI or SSDI claim if it does not meet a listing:
Now that we have determined that your condition does not meet a listing and you will have to file an appeal there are some simple steps that if you have not done them already should be done now to speed up your disability case.
- Talk to a disability lawyer. I hear the objections all of the time: they cost too much, they don’t do any work, or I can handle my case by myself. All of this may be true, but what generally happens is a claimant fumbles along completely unaware of the process and what should be done, wasting weeks of valuable time, and eventually hires a lawyer anyway.
- Review your medical record. Do you have to gather your medical records on your own? No, in fact the SSA is responsible for gathering them for you, but unfortunately, many disability claimants have no idea what is in their medical records or what information the SSA is using to make their disability determination decision. How does this hurt your claim? If the SSA cannot determine whether or not you are disabled from your medical records they will send you to a consultative examination. This takes time and these exams are seldom helpful to claimants.
Request your SSD file from the SSA and if you have a lawyer they should also send you your medical records. Make sure the information is legible. I have read thousands of pages of medical records which are completely illegible. If the SSA cannot read the information they will disregard the information.
In conclusion, I would urge you to get great medical care and follow your prescribed treatment plan. If the SSA sees that you have consistently seen the doctor but you still do not have the ability to work, you are much more likely to be awarded disability benefits.
- SSDI and SSI Disability Benefits – Top 7 tips to get benefits (disabilitybenefitshome.com)
- SSDI – Can my disability lawyer help me get more money? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)
- SSI and SSDI – 5 Mistakes you may be making (disabilitybenefitshome.com)