There are programs in place to help you get your disability benefits faster.
The Social Security Administration knows that the disability determination process is slow and that some cannot wait for monetary assistance so they have created programs to help you get your disability benefits quicker.
The Social Security Administration handles millions of claims and runs on a very tight budget. Despite the Social Security Administration’s commitment to expediency, it generally takes three to four months for claims to be decided. Most claims are denied the first time around, and the appeal and re-evaluation process take another few months. In some instances, it can be years before disabled individuals see any benefits. Wait times are increasingly becoming an issue as more claims are being filed and budget restrictions put more pressure on the SSA to manage resources efficiently. Fortunately, there are a few options to help those with serious or terminal illness who need their benefits quickly.
The Quick Disability Determination Program
The Quick Disability Determination (QDD) program has been in use since 2008. The Social Security Administration runs each initial application through a predictive model algorithm. The algorithm takes into account the type of disability, date the disability started, the availability of medical evidence, and other factors to determine if the Social Security Administration will be able to process the case quickly. QDD cases are prioritized and expedited. The examiner for a QDD case does not have to have a medical consultant evaluate your file as would be needed for a standard claim. If your QDD claim is denied, it goes back through the standard determination process where a medical consultant will have an opportunity to view the claim.
Compassionate Allowances Program
The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program also began in 2008. The purpose of the Compassionate Allowances program is to help individuals with certain particularly serious conditions to receive benefits as quickly as possible. The list of conditions that qualify for Compassionate Allowances grows every year. If you are beginning the application process, it is a good idea to see if your condition is on the list of Compassionate Allowances. Your application will be expedited if it states that you qualify for CAL. Some CAL applications are approved in as little as 10 days. Unlike a Quick Disability Determination case, CAL cases do require evaluation by a medical consultant.
Terminal Illness Program
Another fast-track program the Social Security Administration uses is the Terminal Illness (TERI) program. Interestingly, applicants who are processed through this program are often not told they are receiving special treatment. The Social Security Administration believes it is in the best interest of the claimant if they are unware it’s statistically probable their condition will end in death. Applicants will be placed in the TERI program if a doctor, family member, or claimant himself tells the SSA the condition is likely terminal. Certain serious diseases such as AIDS and heart failure may also result in the application being processed under the TERI program. Unlike QDD cases, TERI cases maintain their expedited status if they are denied for non-medical reasons.
Presumptive Disability Program
The previously described programs place the applicant’s cases on a fast-track where those cases are prioritized and may even be able to skip certain steps. The Presumptive Disability program does not fast-track the applicant’s case. Instead, it allows for disability payments and Medicaid coverage while eligibility is still being determined. Presumptive Disability is only paid to initial applicants to the Supplemental Security Income program who meet income requirements and have claims that are likely to be approved. If your claim ends up being denied for medical reasons, you will not have to pay back any benefits you have received. These programs help those who are unable to work maintain their financial situation.
If you have applied for disability benefits and are wondering if you are eligible for one of these fast-track programs, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed today for a free consultation. We are dedicated to helping our clients get the benefits they need, as soon as they can get them.
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