Some Social Security disability claims can take months, even years, to process. The lengthy wait time can be difficult to bear when your disability has left you without a steady flow of income. Still, there are ways to speed up the process--however incrementally. Use the following tips to ensure that your claim is being processed as quickly as possible (but keep in mind that "as quickly as possible" is still not that quick when it comes to Social Security disability):
1. Don't delay your claim. If you know you are going to apply for Social Security disability, do it as soon as your disability results in unemployment.
2. Do your research. Understand the process and be sure to provide all required documentation in your original claim application packet. Cases can sit for months waiting on doctors to send in appropriate records, so submitting these yourself is often much faster.
3. Answer your claim examiner's letters and/or calls. The examiner can only continue processing your claim when you cooperate, so provide them with any missing documents they may need and answer all of their lingering questions.
4. Show up to your consultative examination (CE). Rescheduling will only prolong the process, so try to reach your appointment on time the first time.
5. Don't delay your appeal. Appeals are necessary in many cases after a claimant's first application is denied. File, or have your disability lawyer file, for your appeal immediately. Waiting until the last minute will prolong the claims process. The same goes for requesting a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
6. Write a dire need letter. Wait times for ALJ hearings can be a year, sometimes longer. This backlog can sometimes be mitigated by writing a letter to your Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), informing them that your financial situation is too dire to wait the normal amount of time for a hearing. These letters are not always effective, but the more documentation you attach the better. Add copies of past due bills, eviction notices, overdue mortgage notifications, prescriptions you require but are unable to fill, along with any other paperwork you have that exhibits your dire financial situation.
7. Contact your congressman or senator. A congressional inquiry on your behalf at the hearing level can sometimes result in a closer hearing date.
8. Hire a disability attorney. While this won't speed up your claim in and of itself, a disability attorney can ensure that you are providing proper documentation and that claims, appeals, and hearings are applied for in a timely manner.