Getting disability benefits faster

Is there a way to get disability benefits faster?

There are a number of established ways to get an SSI or SSD disability claim processed faster so that an applicant can get their disability benefits quicker.

For instance, if you have a terminal disabling condition, your disability claim will receive an expedited case processing. Social Security's goal in processing claims that involve a terminal condition is to make a decision in 30 days or less. These cases are monitored by the management of disability determination agencies (each state has a DDS) and, as such, they are generally extremely timely.

Most disability claims do not involve terminal conditions, however they may involve very severe conditions that are very unlikely to improve. Social Security uses another expedited processing for certain illnesses known as the compassionate allowance (CAL) process.


Currently, there are 226 CAL conditions that qualify for this expedited processing and the list could potentially continue to grow as Social Security allows new conditions to be submitted for consideration. While these cases are not always processed in 30 days or less, they are given immediate attention once they are received at the disability agency. Basically, they are processed as quickly as disability examiners can get the necessary medical documentation.


If your disability case does not qualify for either of the above mentioned expedited processes, you may still have a disability condition that qualifies for a quick medical determination. The quick disability determination (QDD) process uses a computer algorithm to identify disability cases that have conditions and other factors likely to lead to a quick disability approval. Disability examiners work these cases immediately so that they can get their decision made.

If your disability claim does not fit any of the above claim situations, you may still be approved for disability benefits. However, it may take considerably longer to be approved.

If your initial disability claim is denied, you will have to begin the Social Security Disability appeal process. Most initial claim denials will have to go all the way through the disability appeal process to an administrative law judge disability hearing. Unfortunately, Social Security Disability hearings offices across the nation are backlogged and it could take a year or more to get your disability hearing.

While the disability hearing results in the most disability approvals of any level in the Social Security Disability process, many disability claims are denied. If your disability case is denied, you will have to file a new disability claim and begin the process again if you are still unable to work.

In summary, it could be a short amount or long amount of time before you receive disability benefits after you apply for disability. It is very dependent upon the severity your disabling condition and non-medical factors such as residual functional capacity, education, and job skills.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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