The wait for an appeal hearing in a Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSI") or Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") can be frustrating and cause economic hardship for those unable to work as well as their families. If you are experiencing hardships while waiting for an appeal hearing, it is important to understand when your case may be considered "critical" and eligible for "special processing." That is, if your case is deemed "critical" you may be entitled to an expedited hearing. If your case falls under any of the following categories, you should seek assistance in having your case deemed "critical":
(1) Terminal Illness
* If your illness is identified as terminal, you should have your doctor confirm the diagnosis in writing and present this information, along with supporting medical records and diagnostic studies to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible;
(2) Veterans Designated as 100 Percent Permanent and Total Compensation Rating
* A case can be designated as "critical" if you have received a 100 percent permanent and total (100% P&T) disability compensation rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you have received a 100 percent permanent and total disability compensation rating, you may submit a VA notification letter verifying the 100% P&T rating or through a data match from the Department of Veterans Affairs;
(3) Military Casualty/Wounded Warrior Case
* If you are a current or former member of a military service who has sustained an illness, injury or wound and you are alleging a physical or mental health impairment and that you sustained the impairment while on active duty status on or after October 1, 2001 - you should seek a designation of "critical" status;
(4) Compassionate Allowance
* The compassionate allowance process identifies medical conditions that may qualify under the Listings of Impairments. You should be aware of this designation when you file your initial application and if your condition may qualify as a compassionate allowance while you are waiting for your hearing. As with all of these designations, it is imperative that your doctor(s) supply you with the medical records and, if possible, a medical opinion letter, to support a finding of a compassionate allowance; and
(5) Dire Need Cases
* This is easily the area where we receive the most questions regarding how a claimant can reduce their wait for a hearing. You may seek a designation of a "critical case" if you can demonstrate the following circumstances:
1. You are without food and you are unable to obtain food to sustain yourself;
2. You lack medicine or medical care and you are unable to obtain it due to a lack of resources;
3. You lack shelter, you are homeless, or your home is uninhabitable because you are without utilities. You should also consider this category if you are in a shelter and your stay is scheduled to expire or you are faced with imminent foreclosure or eviction and you do not have the resources to stop the foreclosure or eviction. You should gather as much evidence as possible to support your request - including documents from utility providers, banks, landlords, etc.
These are some of the most common ways that a case is determined "critical." This is not an exhaustive list and, if you believe that your case may be eligible for a "critical" status, contact Norfleet and Lafferty at (717) 737-7574 as soon as possible to speak with an attorney for a free evaluation of your case and to discuss the specific facts of your case.