There are some medical conditions that are so serious and long-lasting that it is immediately clear they meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. That definition is essentially:
- You are completely disabled from working due to a severe physical or mental health condition
- Your condition will last for a year or longer or will result in your death
If you meet this definition of disability, there is a good chance you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. If you have sufficient work credits, you could receive benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. If not, you might receive benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
How does the Social Security Disability process work?
Ordinarily, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends SSI and SSDI applications to a local Disability Determination Services office. This office reviews each application to determine whether it meets all of the criteria.
Your application must include evidence, such as medical records, of your health condition. It must also include evidence that your condition is disabling. A Disability Determination Services officer weighs this evidence and decides whether or not you qualify. This can be a lengthy process.
Unfortunately, through this process, the SSA rejects around 70% of all applications. Many of those applications involve legitimate claims, but the applicant needs to provide clarification or additional information. Being denied initially does not mean that you will not ultimately receive benefits. There are many opportunities to appeal. However, appeals do take time.
Applications can be approved sooner for certain medical conditions
The SSA has two special processes designed to expedite claims that are likely to succeed.
One is the Compassionate Allowances program. This program involves a constantly-updated list of medical conditions covered by the program. The SSA has already determined that these conditions meet its definition of disabling. When applications involving these conditions are identified by the SSA, the agency can make a quick decision.
The other is called Quick Disability Determinations. This process uses computers to screen applications and identify those with a high probability for success. These can then be expedited.
If you have questions about whether you qualify for the Compassionate Allowances program or about a denied Social Security Disability claim, you should meet with a Social Security Disability attorney. There is generally no cost to do so.