Monday, September 10, 2007

Can a Congressman help on a disability case with Social Security ?

Attorney Charles Hall recently posted on this very issue and said (I'm paraphrasing) "the only thing that happens as a result of contacting a congressman's office is an exchange of letters and if the claimant just so happens to get approved anyway, the congressman takes all the credit".

Is this true? Well, to a large extent yes. When I was a disability examiner, working on social security disability cases and SSI claims, we would occasionally receive congressional inquiries. What do examiners do with such letters? Nothing. It has absolutely no effect on either the outcome of an SSD or SSI case or on the speed at which a disability case gets processed.

Having said that, though, congressional inquiries can potentially make a difference for claimants whose cases have moved beyond the disability application and social security reconsideration levels. Why is this? Probably because as the old saying goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease". In this case, hearing office directors may sometimes take the initiative to speed up a disability hearing request following the receipt of an inquiry letter from a congressman's office.

Is it worthwhile to call a congressman if you have a pending disability application or pending reconsideration? Probably not. However, if you have a request for a hearing that has been stuck in the system for many months, it may not be a bad idea to call your congressional representative. Bear in mind, however, that the backlogs at the hearing level are pretty horrendous, meaning that even a letter from a congressman may potentially have little effect on how long it takes to get a disability hearing date scheduled.

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