How to Get a Social Security Disability Hearing Scheduled Faster

Getting your Social Security disability hearing scheduled faster can be difficult, but there are a few things you can try.

Getting your Social Security disability hearing scheduled faster can be difficult, but there are a few things you can try.

Dire Need

After you file a request for hearing, one way to potentially get a faster date is to send a "dire need" letter. Dire need letters can be helpful when your financial circumstances are severe. If you are in danger of losing access to needed medications, or in danger of eviction or foreclosure, the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO, formerly known as the Office of Adjudication and Review) is supposed to consider your request to expedite an ALJ disability hearing. (ALJ stands for administrative law judge, a judge who hears only Social Security claims.)

If your financial situation is especially precarious, write up a short but detailed dire need letter and forward this to the hearing office where your hearing is waiting to be scheduled. Attach evidence of your dire situation to this letter, such as copies of late notices from landlords, mortgage companies, and utilities providers. For more information, see our article on dire need letters.

Congressional Inquiry

Another way to potentially expedite a disability hearing is to contact the office of a local congressman or senator. This will launch what is referred to as a congressional inquiry. Such inquiries typically involve a congressional staff member either calling or writing the hearing office on a Social Security claimant's behalf.

Congressional inquiries often have mixed results. But they never hurt a case, and, typically, if they benefit a case, it is at the hearing request level. A congressional inquiry might get you a hearing scheduled in six months rather than a year or two.

On-the-Record Review

A Social Security disability or SSI case for which a hearing has been requested can also be expedited by requesting what is known as an on-the-record (OTR) review. In an OTR request, you ask that your file be reviewed prior to a hearing date. If you sent a dire need letter and the hearing office agrees that your case is critical, it will automatically determine whether your claim deserves an on-the-record review.

The desired outcome of such a review is that the your claim will be approved without having to wait for a hearing. But for an on-the-record review to be granted, a claimant's medical evidence must be particularly compelling. In many instances, disability attorneys won't consider requesting an OTR review unless a claimant's condition has significantly worsened since the initial application and this can be supported by medical evidence. For more information, see our article about OTR reviews.

Attorney Advisor Opinions

For certain types of cases, you can request that an attorney advisor (instead of an ALJ) looks at your records and makes a decision on your benefits before your hearing takes place. For more information, see our article on attorney advisor opinions.

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