The Social Security Administration may take months to decide on Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claims. Wait times for an initial decision on disability claims rose from an average of 122 days during the last quarter of 2019 to 169 days during that period in 2021.
The SSA can expedite processing for Social Security Disability claims for applicants who have specific medical conditions, coping with difficult personal circumstances or served in the military. There are also other methods for seeking a faster eligibility determination.
Certain medical conditions qualify for faster processing under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances Program. This program covers 266 illness and serious injuries including Huntingdon’s disease, Lewy body dementia and other cancers and neurological disorders. The SSA approved over 800,000 people for benefits under this program by Aug. 2022.
The SSA uses text-scanning hardware to locate potential applications. Applicants do not have to ask for a compassionate allowance but can note qualifying conditions on their applications.
Applicant claims indicating a terminal illness are automatically considered for faster processing and claim determination. Qualifying conditions and circumstances include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Malignant and stage IV cancer
- Being under hospice care
- Waiting for a heart, lung, heart and lung, liver, or bone marrow transplant
Applicants may also identify TERI conditions on their application.
SSA can expedite claims as a dire need if the applicant lacks food, medicine or housing or faces imminent eviction or foreclosure. Applicants may inform SSA about their situation in a telephone call or dire need letter. Applicants in the appeal process may also seek an expedited hearing for dire need.
Veterans’ claims may be expedited if the applicant is a wounded warrior who was disabled while in active service after Sept. 30, 2001. They also are eligible if they have a 100% VA permanent and total compensation rating.
Applicants can forego the 75-day notice for administrative law judge hearings by submitting a waiver form with the hearing office. Waving this notice, however, reduces the time for gathering and providing evidence supporting a disability. This evidence must be submitted no later than five business days before the hearing.
Asking the ALJ for an on-the-record decision may expedite an appeal. Applicants usually make an OTR request when they believe that their evidence supports their disability application without presenting expert testimony at a hearing.
Critical case designations that expedite reviews may continue into appeals or added during that process if an appeal was initially denied.
Attorneys can assist applicants with gathering and presenting information to expedite their application. They may also help protect rights.