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Dire Need Social Security Disability Cases

A Muskegon SSDI Attorney Providing Caring & Capable Advocacy

You could be waiting more than a year to receive a decision on your Social Security disability application. The average wait time for a hearing in Grand Rapids is 14 months; in Lansing, it’s 12.1 months; and in Mt. Pleasant, it’s 17 months.

These are average wait times—not maximums.

However, Social Security may process a case more quickly if it is deemed “critical.” This most commonly happens when a “dire need” situation exists.

image of doctor speaking with man and holding clipboard

What Is a Social Security Dire Need Case?

Dire need cases are often processed more quickly than normal claims. Three situations that may constitute dire need are: You do not have food and cannot obtain it, you are homeless or facing foreclosure or eviction, and/or you need medical care and cannot get it due to lack of money or insurance.

How to Request a Dire Need Designation

The Social Security employee manual states that all employees who screen claims are responsible for identifying dire need cases. However, due to high case volumes, this rarely happens.

The most effective way to have your case identified as a dire need case is to send Social Security a “dire need letter.”

Each regional Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in the U.S. receives hundreds of Social Security dire need letters per year. Most ODARs will only identify a case as dire need if a disability claimant is at risk of becoming homeless. However, some hearing offices (usually the less-busy ones) may view a lack of access to necessary medical care or utilities as a qualifying Social Security dire need situation.

If you are granted an expedited hearing, this may mean that the hearing is scheduled a few months earlier. This may not seem like much, but every little bit helps.

Tips for Writing a Social Security Dire Need Letter

A dire need letter should be written by the claimant—not a friend, family member, or legal representative. It should include lots of details to support your claim to dire need, such as:

  • If you’re in danger of losing your home. If this is the case, make it the first item you address. Provide supporting documentation, such as eviction threats, foreclosure notices, etc.
  • What bills you can’t pay and how far behind they are. Attach copies of past due notices.
  • What critical expenses you can’t pay—utilities, food, rent, etc.
  • Any medications you can’t obtain, and how much they cost.
  • Whether you have access to needed medical treatment.
  • Any repossessions or potential repossessions.

You should send the Social Security dire need letter to the ODAR that is handling your case.

In urgent need of disability assistance? Contact Nolan & Shafer PLC for a free consultation with our Muskegon SSDI lawyer at (231) 403-0040. We serve clients in Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas.

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