The waiting time for those who have requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge has only increased over the last few years. While those in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, that is, Region 1, were waiting the least amount of time when compared to the rest of the country, and were waiting approximately 1 year from time the request for hearing was submitted until such time as the hearing, the wait time can now be up to close to a year and a half. Having a lawyer who understands under what circumstances your case might qualify for expedited processing can prove critical.
The Office of Adjudication and Review guidelines, call the Hallex, provides that a case should be flagged as critical and requires special processing when the individual is suffering from a terminal illness: that is to say, if one is suffering from an illness that is untreatable, irreversible and expected to result in death. Likewise, if the individual claimant is a disabled military veteran and has been designated with a rating by the Veteran’s Administration as 100% permanently and totally disabled, and is specifically provided with a “disability compensation rating” for disability compensation: this does not apply to those cases where the individual has been provided with a 100% permanent and total disability pension, which is needs based and which would be offset by the amount received in Social Security disability benefits. Likewise, special processing may be provided for those veterans who are considered a “military casualty/wounded warrier”: that is if they have sustained an illness, injury or wound, and, as a result, they are alleging a physical or mental impairment which was sustained while on active duty status and on or after October 1, 2001. Expedited processing is also given to those conditions that have been classified as “compassionate allowances.” While many times, conditions that are so severe may be identified as a compassionate allowance at the initial level of review, at times, one condition may not rise to the level of a listed compassionate allowance until such time as they have reached the hearing level. Likewise, a claim may be designated as requiring special processing if the individual claimant has been designated as someone who is “suicidal, homicidal or potentially violent.”
The most common circumstance, however, justifying designation as a critical case and, thereby designated as requiring expedited processing, is the circumstance where one is in what is called a dire need circumstance. The Hallex provision provides that when one is being deprived one of the essentials of life, that is to say, food, lack of medicine or medical care, or shelter, the case should be deemed to present a threat to the claimant’s health or safety and should be designated as requiring an expedited processing as a dire need. Before proceeding in this fashion, however, it is important to understand that a very large number of claimants awaiting hearing are in welfare circumstances and are living in what is just above poverty level circumstances. For instance, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is quite common to see a single individual receiving transitional assistance in the form of $303.00 cash assistance in the form of Emergency Aid to the Elderly Disabled and Children (EAEDC), $200 food stamps and provision for health insurance by way of Mass Health (which is Medicaid assistance). This assistance is meant to provide an individual with sufficient assistance to subsist. One needs to be very careful about alleging Dire Need in a circumstance where they may not have the funds/shelter/insurance they used to have, but do in fact have what is deemed by the state as sufficient provisions to subsist in the interim. Should one attempt a request for dire need in this set of circumstances, for example, one could the find the presiding ALJ questioning why your case was brought to his attention far ahead of those who may have been waiting much longer for hearing (and who are trying to survive on the same interim assistance).
One of the benefits of having a skilled Social Security disability lawyer assist you with your claim is to help guide your case in the correct manner. If you, or someone you know, is in need of legal assistance with a Social Security disability claim, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 for a free consultation.