Applicants for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits have complained about the tortuously slow process for many years. Not long ago, a two year wait for a hearing at the Jericho hearing office, which services many of my clients, was commonplace. However, according to the most recent statistics, the processing time for claims at the Jericho hearing office is now 292 days, making it the eighth fastest out of the 185 hearing offices.
While 292 days is commendable, it still represents too long a period of time for some claimants. People who have little or no savings who lose their income when their disability forces them to stop working can find themselves in desperate financial straits. There are circumstances where certain claims are allowed to leap frog to the head of the line, and dire need is one of them.
I represent a 55 year old former medical assistant who had to stop working due to back and knee problems and diabetes as well. Even though she had worked full time as a medical assistant for 14 years, she had little savings. Because she lost her income she became homeless. After bringing the claimant’s situation to the attention of the hearing office, her case was expedited, and approved.
Just because a claim is expedited does not guarantee that it will be approved. But if the claim is going to be denied, then it is still better to get the denial expedited to hasten the appeal process.