Writing A Hardship Letter To Social Security

A hardship letter to Social Security is also known as a “dire need” letter. Only certain situations are classed as dire need, so it is very important that you consider those. Disability claimants, in particular, are commonly affected by financial hardship. They may not be able to obtain their needed medication, go to hospital for treatment, or meet the expenses for their critical care. On top of that, they struggle to pay their standard monthly expenses, such as mortgage, rent, and utilities.

Dire Need According to the Social Security Administration

It would seem that those types of situations would always be classed as “dire need”. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not agree. The reality is that the SSA does not truly care when a disability claimant, or other Social Security benefit claimant, ends up with crumbling finances that make it impossible for them to live a decent life. They will evaluate the concerns when a hardship letter is received and process the claim, but you should never assume that the claim will be accepted.

The Process at the SSA for Evaluating a Claim

If you have sent a hardship letter, you will have already gone through the original claim in which you requested certain benefits. Several standard reconsideration steps can be followed should you not agree with the decision made based on your initial application. Eventually, you will have to request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ), at which point the Office of Disability Adjudication Review (ODAR) will determine whether your situation is truly dire or not. In the past, this was done by the Office of Hearings and Appeals. Unfortunately, this is a lengthy process and, by this time, the original claim might have been initially made as much as a year ago, if not more.

Write to the Nearest ODAR office of the SSA

One of the best things you can do is send your hardship letter to the SSA directly to your nearest ODAR office. In so doing, you may be able to expedite the process substantially, sometimes by as much as several months. To achieve this, however, you must ensure that your letter includes enough details and compelling evidence to show that your financial situation is truly unmanageable. You should also include photocopies of things, such as your income, your expenses, and late payment notices from your mortgage provider, landlord, or utility providers, and so on. You must also be able to prove that you have already made all possible attempts to lower your expenses.

Unfortunately, even if you write directly to the ODAR office and they agree to give you a hearing sooner than usual, you will still have to wait several months in total. On the other hand, those few months may just prevent you from losing everything that you earned before you became disabled in the first place. You should also make sure that you write hardship letters to your creditors, so that they are aware of your situation and the fact that you are awaiting an appeal with the ODAR office. They are more likely to be more lenient than the SSA after all.

{Your Name}
{Your Address}
{Your Phone Number}

{Financial Institution Name}
{Phone Number}
ATTN: {contact person}

To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter to request that my Social Security disability claim be processed as a dire need case. I understand that the process is long and difficult for many people, but I believe that I may qualify for critical need.

My situation constitutes dire need because {only possible situations: 1. This is a military casualty case, 2. This is a compassionate allowance case, 3. I am homicidal or suicidal, 4. I have a terminal illness, 5. I cannot afford food, medicine, or shelter}. I am attaching {doctor’s prognosis, psychiatrist’s analysis, military discharge papers, etc.} as proof that my circumstances are critical.

I fervently hope that this case can go through quickly, as my condition is rapidly becoming more burdensome. I am currently unable to {detailed description of your current limitations}. I believe that with my disability claim I could {description of what you would do with the money}.

I appreciate your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon concerning this matter.


{Sender Name}

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