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How Long Can You Expect to Wait to get a Favorable Decision at the SSA Hearing Level?

If you are applying for Disability Insurance benefits (DIB or SSDI) under Title II and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title 16 of the Social Security Disability Act, you quickly realize that this government program cannot provide the swift help needed.The sudden onset of illness and/or disease can have dire financial consequences resulting in the loss of housing, a car, and medical treatment due to an inability to afford transportation, copays and medication.

Currently, in the Atlanta-North Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), the average wait time for a hearing to be scheduled is 15.5 months from the date that the appeal (request for hearing) is filed at the Social Security District Office until the hearing date. At the Atlanta–Downtown ODAR, the average wait for a hearing to be scheduled is 17 months; and at the Covington ODAR office, the average wait time for a hearing is 15 months. http://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html

What can be done to get a Hearing Faster?

1. If you are terminally ill with a medical condition that is untreatable, irreversible, and expected to end in death, your case will be flagged as a “TERI case” for expedited processing. Examples include: 1) any malignant neoplasm defined as state IV cancer that is metastatic, persistent or recurrent following initial therapy; or inoperable or unresectable 2) an allegation or diagnosis of cancer of the esophagus; cancer of the liver; cancer of the pancreas; cancer of the gallbladder; mesothelioma; small cell or oat cell lung cancer; cancer of the brain; or acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) or acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) 3) comatose for 30 days or more 4) awaiting heart, liver, lung or bone marrow transplants excluding kidney and corneal transplants 5) chronic pulmonary or heart failure requiring continuous home oxygen and an inability to care for personal needs. 6) chronic dependence on a cardiopulmonary life-sustaining device 7) receiving inpatient hospice care or receiving home hospice care, ie. in-home end of life counseling or palliative nursing care 8) an allegation from the claimant or third party that the illness is terminal; 9) newborn with a lethal genetic or congenital defect 10) an allegation or diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or 11) an allegation or diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0423020045

2. Determine if your case falls under the Compassionate Allowance Exception. Claimants suffering from conditions on a “Compassionate Allowance” list get special treatment. See our blog dated February 17,2012 which addresses the topic.http://www.kathleenflynnlaw.com/1586109502014/blog
The comprehensive Compassionate Allowance List can be found at: http://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/

3. Submit information documenting that you are homeless or in a “dire need” situation. Dire need can be shown if you are without shelter, food, or access to medical care. http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-1-40.html

4. If you are VET attempting to obtain a VA Disability Rating, once a 100% VA Disability Rating is achieved, SSA regulations require special processing of these cases. http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-1-40.html

5. If you are a VET, who has not received a disability rating of 100%, but who has sustained a physical or mental impairment while on active duty, you are designated as a Military Casualty/Wounded Warrior, whose case requires special processing. http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-1-40.html

6. Your case may be designated as critical if SSA finds that you are suicidal, homicidal, or potentially violent. http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-1-40.html

7. If there has been an inordinate delay in processing your case, and there is a public, congressional, or other high priority inquiry on the case, SSA may designate your case as critical. Contact your local Congressperson to do an inquiry of the status of your case with ODAR if you have been waiting for a hearing beyond the average processing times listed above. http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-1-40.html

Unless the Judge issues a decision from the Bench, there will be a delay of months before a decision writer prepares a fully favorable decision for the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to sign. Then, there will be another delay before a PERK, financial interview, is conducted by the Social Security District Office for a SSI monthly payment and/or SSI back payment. Moreover, the Payment Center may take months to issue a monthly DIB payment and/or back payment for DIB. The Payment Center cannot release a DIB backpayment until all the SSI installments are released to you.

Call the Law office of Kathleen M Flynn, LLC at 404-479-4431 if you would like assistance with filing an application or appeal for social security disability benefits or help in expediting your case. Also, please visit our website at www.kathleenflynnlaw.com to learn more about us.

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