Many people in Illinois have heard applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a slow process. Claim approval can take more than a year, and if a claim is denied, the appeals process may last several more months. Fortunately, people with especially serious disabling conditions may be eligible for expedited application processing.
The Compassionate Allowances program allows immediate claim processing for people with conditions that invariably qualify for SSD benefits. The Social Security Administration currently recognizes more than 150 Compassionate Allowances conditions, including:
- Traumatic brain injury and stroke
- Autoimmune diseases
- Dementias such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
- Cardiovascular disease
Some of these diseases unconditionally qualify for expedited processing. Others are only eligible if they meet certain criteria. For instance, many cancers do not qualify for the program until the cancer metastasizes or becomes inoperable.
If an applicant has a qualifying condition and provides adequate medical documentation, the claim may be approved in less than one month. However, if an application does not provide all of the necessary information, processing may take longer.
If a condition is terminal but does not appear on the Compassionate Allowances conditions list, the applicant can still qualify for expedited processing through the TERI program. If a condition does not qualify for the Compassionate Allowances or TERI programs, it may still be processed quickly if it matches an SSA impairment listing.
The SSA “Blue Book” of impairment listings includes various medical conditions and specific criteria that determine whether a condition is considered disabling. These criteria may include the extent of the condition, the presence of certain symptoms and the functional limitations the condition causes. An individual who suffers from a listed condition and meets all of the SSA criteria can qualify for benefits without his or her ability to work being evaluated. This can lead to faster claims processing.
The SSA begins the impairment listing evaluation by determining whether an applicant meets non-medical requirements. Next, a claims examiner reviews the medical documentation. If an applicant has provided adequate proof of meeting an impairment listing, the SSA performs a final check to verify that non-medical requirements are still met. If so, the claim is approved.
The SSA takes several steps to help people with severe conditions that will likely qualify for benefits. Still, the SSD application process may be delayed by other factors, such as medical professionals failing to pass on records in a timely manner. Additionally, conditions that qualify for expedited processing are not exempt from the five-month waiting period between application approval and benefit disbursal.
In light of these potential delays, people with severe conditions should consider partnering with a Social Security Disability attorney during the application process.