Q&A – What is a Dire Need Request?

April 2, 2022

If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and been denied twice, you have the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge. However, the process to get to an appeals hearing can take a long time. According to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) own statistics, the average time for processing a hearing request is more than 400 days. If you can prove that you are in a “dire need situation,” Social Security says that your disability claim may be handled more quickly.

The SSA says that a dire need exists if:

  • “The claimant is without food and is unable to obtain it.
  • “The claimant lacks medicine or medical care and is unable to obtain it, or the claimant indicates that access to necessary medical care is restricted because of a lack of resources.”
  • “The claimant lacks shelter.”

But is filing a dire need request a good strategy?

We frequently receive paperwork from clients showing how dire their financial situation is, with the expectation that the Social Security Administration will understand and speed up their case.

The truth of the matter is that dire need requests are rarely granted, because the SSA has strict rules. In our experience, unless you are homeless (not couch surfing) or your utilities have been shut off, a dire need is unlikely to be granted.

The reason? A majority of those applying for Social Security Disability benefits are struggling financially. While a dire need request can be made and may be helpful, it is not always the most effective option when so many people the SSA sees are experiencing financial hardship.

And what truly determines Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is medical evidence, not financial need. In fact, in SSDI cases, financial need isn’t officially considered at all.

Unfortunately, all too often clients will readily send a stack of papers showing how desperate their financial situation is, but then forget about keeping up with their medical appointments.

Or they don’t discuss with their doctor the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. This is a place to provide strong evidence of a disability. (For more on RFCs see our blog article: The Secret to Winning Your Disability Case).

It’s not that the dire need documents are never important—they can be. But sending them at the expense of collecting the winning medical documentation is a bad strategy.

The process of winning the disability benefits you have earned can be frustrating, confusing and difficult. If you are looking for help, contact your local Chicagoland Social Security Disability Lawyers at Nash Disability Law today to discuss your unique situation.