SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY - Expidited Hearing & Critical Case Designation
Special Processing of “critical” cases: Social Security Disability cases frequently take more than a year to process. Some types of cases are or can be designated for special handling and/or for expedited hearings. There are now four of these special situations.
EXPIDITED HEARINGS AND SPECIAL PROCESSING OF "CRITICAL CASES"Special Processing of *critical* cases:
Some types of cases are or can be designated for special handling and/or for expedited hearings. There are now four of these special situations as follows:
1. TERMINAL ILLNESS (TERI) Cases * Simply put, these are cases where the claimant is not expected to live. Certain medical conditions are eligible for treatment as Terminal Illness Cases. Examples include amyotropic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig*s Disease), cancer of the liver, esophagus, pancreas or lung (small cell), chronic heart failure and other diseases. The claimant, his/her doctor or his/her family can bring this situation to the attention of the SSA if it has not already designated the case for TERI handling.
2. MILITARY CASUALTY; WOUNDED WARRIOR Cases * Any current or former member of the military who sustained an illness, injury or wound while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001. The claimant does not have to have been injured in the course of performing military tasks. It does not matter where the claimant was when injured (U.S. or foreign country). The cause of the impairment can be any physical or mental illness or injury that results in disability. Some injuries (like P.T.S.D.) may have originated during military service or from military service but did not become a disability until after discharge from military service. These could also be designated for Military Casualty status.
3. COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCE (CAL) Cases * Compassionate Allowance cases are claims that arise from disease or other medical conditions that almost always qualify for Social Security disability. They are identified in a Listing of Impairments (see 20 CFR Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404). Most CAL cases are identified by the SSA staff at the initial application level.
4. DIRE NEED (DRND) Cases * As a final category, an expedited hearing may be requested where there exists severe medical, financial or personal circumstances. These include lack of food, medical treatment or housing, and the inability to obtain these. Foreclosure, homelessness, suicidal/homicidal events and/or deteriorating medical condition can be causes for granting a request for an expedited hearing. In a high percentage of Social Security disability claims, the claimant is suffering from a high degree of financial, personal or medical difficulty. To be successful in obtaining a hearing on an expedited basis, the circumstances of the claimant must be proven to be severe.
HOW TO PROCEEDIf you believe that your situation merits handling as a special situation or critical case, then you must make the Social Security Administration aware of this. This can be done in several ways, but I find it best to write a "dire need" letter or "special need" letter to the SSA office that is handling your claim. If the case is at the Hearing Level, I will send the letter to the assigned Administrative Law Judge and/or to the hearing office. If in doubt about who to send the dire need letter to, send it to multiple locations.
Your letter should be as short and to the point as possible. However, providing specific details of why you are in need of and entitled to have your case handled on an expidited basis is necessary. Setting forth the medical support for your need and situation is also critical to getting designated for special handling. You can attach medical records but limit these to doctor's opinions or letters and to a few critical documents.
If you have been denied approval at the initial application stage and believe that you have a "dire need" situation, retain an attorney to handle the case.