Social Security Notes
Social Security Claims Backlog Clearing Up
As a result of an additional 21 Administrative Law Judge (ALJs), two new hearing offices in Mt. Pleasant and Livonia and a new office in the Toledo area, the two-year backlog for Social Security cases in Michigan will soon be a thing of the past. The current backlog has been reduced to one year. Advocates can look for cases to be adjudicated within one year of the appeal being filed.
Dire Need Cases (HALLEX I-2-1-40. Critical Cases)
The Social Security Administration recognizes that some claimants are in need of expedited processing of their disability claims. It is important that claimants who may meet the criteria for a “dire needs” disability claim be identified prior to application. In doing so, their claim will be expedited through the process. Some identifiers may be more obvious than others, such as a client who has been diagnosed with a fatal disease. However, for our clients who are in danger of becoming homeless, going without food or going without medical care, this designation may not be revealed unless advocates are asking the right questions of their clients and presenting their cases to the Social Security Administration with a request for a “dire need” designation.
Current policy states that there are five conditions which meet the criteria of “dire need” and warrant expedited processing:
- The claimant's illness is terminal;
- The case involves a disability claim for any military service personnel injured October 1, 2001 or later regardless of how or where the disability occurred, whether in the United States or on foreign soil, provided that the individual was on active duty when the injury occurred;
- The claimant's file is flagged as a Compassionate Allowance case;
- The claimant is without, and is unable to obtain, food, medicine or shelter;
- There is an indication that the claimant is suicidal or homicidal.
For # 4, the client must allege specific, immediate circumstances – lack of food, lack of medicine or medical care, or lack of shelter, including utility shut-off, homelessness, imminent eviction or foreclosure. Social Security is directed to accept a person’s allegation that there is an immediate threat to the person’s health and/or safety. Once a case is designated as critical, the hearings office must expedite its processing, including issuing an On The Record (OTR) decision, if warranted. If a hearing is necessary, it must be scheduled in the first available time slot that is convenient for the applicant and his/her attorney.