Many residents of the Modesto area have probably heard stories about how long it takes for the Social Security Administration to finally award disability benefits to a Californian who needs them. Many deserving applicants get denied at the first stages of the process, and this means that they will have to wait months or even years for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. In the interim, the person will have to find other means of supporting himself or herself through a debilitating illness or injury, assuming of course that they live long enough to have a hearing.

At least some members of Congress are trying to address the problem. For example, there is a proposal to budget $300 million to the Social Security Administration so that they can reduce the time it takes to have a denial of benefits reviewed.

In some situations, a disability attorney may also be able to take steps that could reduce an applicant’s wait time for a review of their Social Security Disability benefits. For example, should a person face the possibility of losing critical medical care or his or her home while awaiting a review of their application, he or she may be able to use what is called a dire need letter to effectively move to the front of the line.

In other cases, having a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge may not be strictly necessary. An attorney could therefore ask for what is called an on the record review. In an on the record review, the Administrative Law Judge will make a decision based on the existing evidence and will not hold a hearing. While this tends to speed things up, the drawback is that an applicant does not have an opportunity to tell his or her story to a live person.

Pursing disability benefits can be challenging, especially when an individual has to find a way to get by on a day-to-day basis while he or she waits for claim determination. By being fully prepared with strong evidence and competent legal arguments, and by utilizing some of the tactics mentioned above, disabled individuals may be able to increase their chances of success and speed up the claims process.