When you apply for social security disability benefits, more than likely you will need to attend a hearing before an administrative law judge. While having an in-person meeting is generally beneficial for determining whether you are disabled, these hearings take approximately 12-18 months to be scheduled. This is after you have already waited 6-12 months for your claim to be denied at the initial application and then reconsideration stage.
One question I hear pretty much across the board is “how am I supposed to financially survive waiting for a hearing date?” Unfortunately, I do not have a good answer to that question. Most people rely upon friends and family for financial support. Some individuals qualify for public assistance benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance. The Social Security program does not provide for advances on your claim.
So what are you supposed to do if you do not have anyone who can help you out financially and your state does not provide public assistance? You could request to have your claim flagged as a critical case. This is done only in rare circumstances. The reason being, when you request a hearing before an administrative law judge you are essentially given a number in line. When your number is called you are given a hearing date. If you request to have your claim expedited, you will jump in front of thousands of other individuals in a similar situation as yourself. For that reason alone, it is very difficult to have your claim expedited.
Not everyone will be determined to have a critical claim. There are certain criteria that first must be met. Some of the reasons your claim may be flagged as critical include:
- You are a veteran receiving 100% service-connected disability
- You have been diagnosed with a terminal illness
- Your condition meets a compassionate allowance; and
- You are in a dire need situation. A dire need situation exists when the individual lacks food or shelter or is unable to afford medicine or medical care.
If you believe you meet the criteria to have your claim flagged as “critical”, you should immediately contact your attorney to have a request submitted.