Monday, September 9, 2013

Can I Expedite My Social Security Disability Hearing Due to "Dire Need"?

A client who is on the verge of loosing her house due to foreclosure recently asked me whether I could write a "dire need" letter requesting that her case be expedited. 
Unfortunately, a large percentage of my Social Security Disability clients endure great financial hardship as a result of the long period of time that they must wait to have their case adjudicated by an Administrative Law Judge.  Many spend up to two years sick and without any income; waiting for a hearing.  Under certain circumstances, it might be appropriate to write a "dire need letter" to the Office of Disability Administration and Review (ODAR) handling your Social Security Disability case, explaining the reasons why there must be an early review of your claim.   
Pursuant to Hallex 1-2-1-40 expediting a hearing for dire need is appropriate when a claimant is without (and unable to obtain) food, medicine or shelter.  Note that dire need is much more than mere hardship.  Mere allegations of hardship that are common to must Social Security Claimants will not be sufficient to expedite a Social Security Disability hearing.
All dire need letters must be accompanied with detailed documentation showing the specific circumstances-- (not general allegations of financial hardship).  Hallex 1-2-1-40 Section 4.b. states:
"The claimant must allege specific, immediate circumstances: (1) lack of food (i.e., without and unable to obtain food), (2) lack of medicine or medical care (e.g., the claimant expresses that he/she needs medicine/medical care but is without and unable to obtain it; the claimant does not have any health insurance, or indicates that access to necessary medical care is restricted because of lack of resources), and/or (3) lack of shelter (e.g., shut-off of utilities such that home is uninhabitable, homelessness, expiration of shelter stay, or imminent eviction or foreclosure with no means to remedy the situation or obtain shelter)."