Gordon Gates wrote a great article outlining when “critical cases” get moved to the front of the line at Social Security.
Critical cases get priority because they are the most serious claims. There are three situations that constitute critical cases: 1) the claimant’s illness is terminal, 2) there is an indication that the claimant is suicidal or homicidal, and 3) dire need.
What is “dire need?” HALLEX I-2-1-40 sets out the requirements:
The claimant is without, and is unable to obtain, food, medicine or shelter [DIRE NEED]; A dire need situation exists when a person has insufficient income or resources to meet an immediate threat to health or safety, such as the lack of food, clothing, shelter or medical care. The claimant must allege specific, immediate circumstances:
(1) lack of food (i.e., without and unable to obtain food),
(2) lack of medicine or medical care (e.g., the claimant expresses that he/she needs medicine/medical care but is without and unable to obtain it; the claimant does not have any health insurance, or indicates that access to necessary medical care is restricted because of lack of resources), and/or
(3) lack of shelter (e.g., shut-off of utilities such that home is uninhabitable, homelessness, expiration of shelter stay, or imminent eviction or foreclosure with no means to remedy the situation or obtain shelter).
As Gordon says, “mere hardship is not enough … the situation must be dire.” This is an important distinction. A number of my clients are homeless, yet Social Security is not expediting their cases. In my experience in Colorado, it is not easy to be designated a “critical case.” But, if you think your situation meets these requirement, it may speed up your case quite a bit!