Waiting for your Social Security Disability Insurance hearing can be frustrating.

And waiting is something many SSDI applicants have to do, all across the country. Waiting for more than a year to have your hearing is quite common, after already being denied at the Initial Application and Reconsideration levels of the disability process. In some places, the wait for a hearing can be more than 18 months. In Charlotte, North Carolina, for instance, in 2016, the wait was nearly two years once an applicant requested your hearing. At the time, Charlotte had the single most pending hearings of any office in Social Security. And that’s just one example – many offices have longer than 12 to 14 month waits.

You may wonder – what can I do while I’m waiting for my hearing?

There are still plenty of things you can do to help your claim, and help your representatives here at Citizens Disability to make your case.

You should keep treating for your conditions, as your mental and physical health providers advise. The Administrative Law Judge you’ll meet at your hearing will need medical and/or psychiatric records in order to find you disabled. Even if you lost your health insurance, check with your state exchange, or look online for a list of low-cost clinics near you. Your disability advocate may also have a list of resources for medical care in your area. Remember: the road to a successful disability claim runs through your doctor’s office.

You may also consider trying to work while you wait. Social Security has special rules for work while you are waiting on a disability claim. Your work will be evaluated in several ways. It will matter how many hours you work, how much you earn, and how long you stay employed. Sometimes even part-time work is considered successful by Social Security, so make sure you talk to your advocate about the details of your job. For some people, you might find that you are able to work and your advocate can advise you about withdrawing your claim. For others, you might fail at work because of your disability. Your advocate can help you make sure you have the necessary evidence for the judge. If you do work while you are waiting for your disability hearing, make sure you save all of your pay stubs. Also, if you struggle at work because of your disability, ask coworkers or supervisors to write letters about the difficulty you have or any accommodations you get.

The Social Security Administration is working to reduce wait times for hearings, but that change will not be fast.

While you wait, make sure you are treating for your conditions and keeping up with evidence that can help you win when you finally get your chance in front of the judge. If you feel frustrated, remember – you’re not alone in this struggle. Many hard-working Americans will go through this same journey. The key to winning is not just patience, but staying on top of your treatments and your medical records, and keeping your advocate updated on your medical situation.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits SSDI & SSI or give us a call (800)492-3260.