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Dire Need- Getting SSA Disability Benefits faster

One of the most common questions asked by claimants is, “How can I speed up my disability processing for my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim?” This question can take on many forms, but the bottom line is many applicants are in dire need and they need help now, not 2 years from now.

In previous blogs we have addressed issues such as terminal illness cases, cases which are so severe they are on the Compassionate Allowance List or specific injuries for military personnel, many of which are approved for expedited processing. This blog will specifically address the issue of “dire need.”

Getting your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits faster due to Dire Need

According to the SSA, there are specific cases that can be expedited for disability processing if the applicant can show that they have dire need. The SSA has outlined specific policies and procedures which are used by the Social Security Disability Hearing Office and the Regional Offices to prioritize these cases, allowing them to process the most serious cases first. If your case is prioritize as dire need it may “jump ahead” of thousands of other disability cases and get processed immediately.

As mentioned above, if you have a terminal case, a disability on the Compassionate Allowance List or your injuries were caused by injury while on active duty (injuries must have occurred on October 1, 2001 or later) you may qualify for expedited processing. Additionally, the SSA will also process claims of a SSI or SSDI claimant with a financial dire need. Dire need is defined as the following (according to the SSA):

1.    The claimant is without, and is unable to obtain, food, medicine or shelter.

Dire need situations exist when a person has insufficient income or resources to meet an immediate threat to health or safety, such as the lack of food, clothing, shelter or medical care. Specifically, the SSI or SSDI applicant must not be able to obtain food or proper medical care because they are without health insurance or access is restricted due to financial resources. The applicant also must lack shelter. This means that they are homeless, the home uninhabitable, their utilities have been shut-off or they have been evicted from their home and have not been able to obtain shelter.

The person’s allegations that they face “dire need” may not be contradicted by evidence.   According to the SSA, “If the allegation is suspect or questionable, they will request confirmation through the servicing SSA field office (FO) and request verification before designating the case critical. If circumstances change and the situation is no longer critical, the designation can be removed.”

Each case is reviewed on a case by case basis. Obviously, many claimants are experiencing a “hardship,” but the SSA recognizes that if all cases are designated as “dire need” than this would “defeat the effectiveness of any priority plan for the processing of the most serious claims.”

The SSA will review the known facts of the SSDI or SSI case and evaluate the estimated processing time for each case. They will determine how fast the case would be handled if it was allowed to be handled through “routine processing” and see if an undue delay would exist or if the case should be given priority. The SSA has been instructed to “err on the side of expediting versus not expediting.”

Evidence to support your claim of dire need can include unpaid bills, a foreclosure notice, eviction notices, expiration medical coverage, bank statements, and letters from your doctors. Talk to a Disability lawyer if you need more information about proving dire need.
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