The Social Security Administration's (SSA's) disability claims process can be agonizingly slow, often taking a year or more. There are a few things you can try that might speed up your disability claim.
But what can you do if it seems that your claim has stalled? It might be time to reach out to your elected officials for help. Here's what you need to do to get your senator or representative to help expedite your disability claim.
Although it's never guaranteed, sometimes asking for a politician's help on a Social Security claim can get your case expedited. By contacting your representative or senator, you can start a congressional inquiry into why your case is taking so long.
You can request a congressional inquiry whether you applied for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. Getting your elected official involved can sometimes have the immediate effect of speeding up an ALJ disability hearing or resolving a problem with a claim.
Because Social Security is a federal program, you'll need to contact your federal representative or senator (not your state legislators) to initiate an inquiry.
First, you need to know who represents you in the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate. You can find out who your elected officials are by entering your address at USA.gov, an informational website operated by the U.S. government. The website provides each senator's and representative's office phone number and official webpage.
Most representatives and senators provide online forms on their websites you can use to request help with federal agencies like Social Security. Or you can call your congressperson's office and ask for help. Either way, the Privacy Act of 1974 requires that you give your elected official written permission to intervene in your case. (5 U.S.C. § 552a.)
But if you've only recently requested a Social Security hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), you might want to wait before asking for help. How long you should wait depends on where you live.
ALJ hearings are scheduled by the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO), which operates 160 offices across all 50 states, and some offices are busier than others. You can check Social Security's list of average OHO wait times (updated regularly) to see how long it usually takes to get a hearing where you live.
To get the congressional inquiry started, a member of your senator's or representative's staff will contact Social Security to check on your claim. Depending on how quickly that initial contact happens, you might hear something from your congressperson's office in a few weeks. But it could take longer.
Rest assured that requesting a congressional inquiry won't hurt your claim or slow the claims process. In the best-case scenario, you'll get a quicker Social Security hearing date. In the worst case, nothing changes, and you have to wait the full amount of time for your hearing—often a year or more.
Remember, you're requesting a Congressional inquiry to find out why your disability claim is taking so long to process and get it moving again. Your senator or congressperson can't influence the outcome or help you get approved for disability benefits.
Updated September 20, 2023