Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How Moving Affects Social Security Disability Claims & Benefits in San Francisco

Getting SSI or SSD benefits through Social Security in San Francisco can be a lengthy process. Due to financial factors, the location of friends, family and support systems, as well access to healthcare, disability claimants often find that they need to move while their claim is still pending.  Here are some answers to a couple common questions we hear at Disability Group about moving and the possible affect on disability claims. 

Those with pending disability claims should notify your representative as soon as possible of any move. If you do not, there is a possibility that you will not receive important notices and correspondence from both Social Security and our representative, some of which may require timely responses or are in regards to important matters affecting your claim.

My disability claim is still pending and I’m moving, will this further delay my claim?
Depending on how far you move, your claim may need to be transferred to a Field Office that has jurisdiction over your new area. At the hearing level, the claim may need to be transferred to the appropriate Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR). The earlier you notify your assigned office of your move, the sooner your claim can be transferred to the office with jurisdiction in your new area. 
  • When your claim is transferred to a different Field Office/ODAR your claim does not get transferred to the “back of the line” so to speak. Rather, your claim stays in the same spot in line, but is now subject to the longer or shorter processing times for that particular office.
For example, let’s say you have a pending claim at the hearing level assigned to the Richmond, Virginia ODAR that has an average wait time of 11.5 months, and you move to Dallas, Texas where the ODAR has an average wait time of 10 months. Your claim had been pending at the Richmond ODAR for 5 months when it is transferred to the Downtown Dallas ODAR. It will now on average take around 5 months for your hearing to be scheduled at the Downtown Dallas ODAR, whereas if the claim remained at the Richmond ODAR it on average would have taken another 6.5 months. While in this example moving may result in the claim being processed more quickly, as you can see, it also (unfortunately) may result in your claim being processed more slowly.  
I forgot to notify Social Security of my move, is this going to be a problem for my disability claim?  Not keeping Social Security up to date with your contact information may potentially harm your disability claim.
  • At the hearing stage, for example, waiting too long to notify your assigned ODAR of your move can lead to a hearing being scheduled in your prior hearing office. If you are unable to travel out to that hearing, your hearing will then need to be cancelled so that your claim can be transferred to the appropriate office, where you may have to wait months for a new hearing to be scheduled.  Worse still, you may not receive the written notice with your hearing time and date, and if you fail to attend your scheduled hearing this can result in the dismissal of your claim.  
The best way to ensure that your claim is handled properly is to hire an attorney. Your disability attorney will stay on top of all paperwork and requests from Social Security and make sure that all your medical records have been received. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.


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