You probably know that appealing a decision about your disability claim can take a very long time, from several months to well over a year. No matter where you are in the process of your disability claim, there are some circumstances where the Social Security Administration (SSA) may expedite your case.
If your situation fits one of the below five categories, it may be designated a “critical case” by the SSA, and if so it will be processed faster.
- Your impairment is terminal.
- Your impairment is considered a “compassionate allowance” condition.
- You are or were in the military and your impairment or injury occurred after September 2001, while you were on active duty.
- You are suicidal or homicidal.
- You are in dire need. The SSA defines dire need as more than just “hardship.” You may be considered to be in a dire need situation if you do not have food, shelter, or medicine and are unable to obtain those things, and that results in an immediate threat to your health or safety. (Learn about how to write a dire need letter.)
Proving Yours Is a Critical Case
To get your case expedited, you should send your request to the SSA and include as much documentation as possible to support your claim that your situation qualifies for the critical case process.
Remember that even if your case fits one of the above five categories, it does not mean you will be found eligible. It just means you will get a decision faster than if it was not designated a critical case.
There is one other rare situation where you may be able to expedite your appeal and go directly to a federal District Court. If you are claiming that the only issue in your case is based on the constitutionality of a provision in the Social Security Act, you can submit a written request to the SSA that your appeal should be expedited to the federal court level. There are very specific technicalities and procedural requirements that must be met in order for your case to qualify for an expedited appeal to the federal court, so you should contact the Social Security office for instructions.
You might want to consider hiring a representative to help you get your case expedited and handle your appea. Many areas have legal aid clinics that assist low-income people in filing and appealing disability claims. If you have questions about whether or not your case qualifies as a critical case, the SSA recommends you call the Congressional and Public Affairs Branch at 703-605-8000. You can also call your local SSA office, and they should be able to assist you or at least point you in the right direction.