Fast-Track Review of SSDI Claims

Does my medical condition qualify for a fast track disability review?

While Social Security Disability Insurance is designed to provide benefits to those who are unable to work, the system is plagued by delays and inefficiencies. However, the Social Security Administration has procedures in place to fast track review certain cases. Let’s take a brief look at some of these programs.

Quick Disability Determinations (QDD)

This process utilizes a predictive model to screen initial applications and analyze specific elements of data. Cases selected for QDD processing are forwarded to a Disability Determination Services (DDS) within 24 hours of receipt. By sorting through vast electronic files, this process helps to quickly identify cases that have readily available medical evidence and are highly likely to receive a favorable determination.

Compassionate Allowances Program (CAL)

This program has been in place since 2008 that helps claim examiners identify over 100 diseases (a number of cancers and other medical conditions) based on the claimants allegations alone. CAL relies on sophisticated software to target illnesses that normally qualify under the SSA’s Blue Book listing of impairments. This program differs from QDD in that it only requires minimal, but sufficient, medical information that trained professionals rely on when determining this evidence confirms a medical diagnosis. In these cases, decisions can be made in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years.

Terminal Illness (TERI) cases

This program is designed to expedite applications of individuals who have untreatable impairments – those which cannot be reversed and are expected to result in death. There are specific protocols in place to label, flag and continuously monitor these cases to ensure fast processing. In addition these claims must be supported by a credible claim from the applicant, a friend, family member, personal physician or other medical source. At the same time, these cases can also be identified during DDS processing. Qualifying claims include diagnoses such as amyotrophic later sclerosis (ALS), any stage IV malignancy, small cell or throat cell lung cancer, or a statement that the claimant is receiving in-patient hospice care.

Other Fast Track SSDI Cases

The SSA also fast tracks processing of disability claims for Military Service Casualty Cases (MSCC). This process, in conjunctions with the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) is designed for members of the military who were seriously injured while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001. To qualify, military personnel must be unable to do substantial work due to their physical or mental medical condition(s) that must have lasted or be expected to last at least one year, or is expected to result in death.

Lastly, there is also a fast track process for Presumptive Disability (PD) and Presumptive Blindness (PB) cases that provide claimants with payments in advance of a formal DDS determination if there is a high degree of probability of approval.

The Takeaway

Even though wait times and delays continue to grow, and are even longer for disability appeals, fast track processes are specifically designed for people with serious health conditions. It has been reported that about 6.9  percent of claims (or more than 181,000) received fast-track status in fiscal year 2015. The best way to navigate the SSA and ensure your application is put on the fast track is to engage the services of an experienced disability benefits attorney.