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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.

What Is a Dire Need Case?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) identifies three situations that may constitute dire need:

  • The claimant does not have food and cannot obtain it.
  • The claimant is homeless or facing foreclosure or eviction.
  • The claimant needs medical care and cannot get it due to lack of money or insurance.

Social Security recognizes that these cases need special attention, so they may be processed more quickly.

In urgent need of disability assistance? Call (231) 403-0040 to speak with our SSDI attorney in Muskegon and learn how to move your case forward.

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 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 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 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 dire need letter to the ODAR that is handling your case.

Contact Michigan Disability Law 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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