Even with the best preparation possible, many, if not most, applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied in the initial stages. When this happens, a Philadelphia resident will have to wait for a hearing before an administrative law judge in order to make his case that he is entitled to disability benefits.
Unfortunately, the waiting time for these hearings is notoriously long, so long, in fact, that it has in recent months attracted attention from the national news media. To some extent, this is just part of the process with which a person has to live, as the months or even years of delay is largely a political problem.
However, there are a couple of techniques our readers may consider that could accelerate the process. How effective these techniques are or whether they should even be tried depends heavily on the individual circumstances of any given case.
One of these techniques is called a "dire need" letter. As the name implies, an applicant for benefits must actually have a dire need for an expedited hearing. For example, if the person is under the threat of foreclosure or the loss of important medical treatment, then they may have the option to move to the top of the waiting list for an administrative hearing. The letter explains the applicant's special circumstances and, hopefully, the applicant will get the opportunity to make the case more quickly.
Another option is to request what is called a review on the record, meaning to ask for an administrative law judge just to enter a ruling based on the documents already provided. While dispensing with a hearing altogether obviously speeds up the process, the danger is that an applicant can wind up with an unfavorable ruling without getting to tell the full version of events.