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Maximizing Your Chances of Getting Quickly Approved for SSDI Benefits

Maximizing Your Chances of Getting Quickly Approved for SSDI Benefits

In a previous article, we discussed a valuable safety net you’ve paid into for years, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and outlined its potential benefits for sick or injured Americans who are unable to continue working. In a follow-up article, we described the complicated and bureaucratic behind-the-scenes process that takes place once you’ve applied for SSDI payments. Basically, after your SSDI application is submitted, it goes through a series of verification stages that can take many, many months – even as much as a year – before your claim is either approved or denied.

In either case, AARP suggests (and we agree) that you’ll be more likely to be approved if you’ve first obtained help and guidance from a specialized Social Security Disability attorney to accelerate the application stage and, if necessary, the appeals process. To do so, you’re required to notify the Social Security Administration that you’re being professionally represented. A Mike Morse Law Firm attorney can do that for you electronically, or you can complete traditional paper documentation to appoint a representative if you prefer.

If all that sounds complicated, it is. And it can become discouraging – especially if you’re suffering from a painful, debilitating injury or illness. So, due to the potential red tape you may encounter, we’ve assembled this article to offer tips, hints, and workarounds that could help you cut through the bureaucracy and improve your chances for approval without ever having to face those complex procedures.

“Presumptive Disability” Payments Can Begin Immediately – Even if You Haven’t Been Formally Approved Yet

If you are filing an SSI claim for one of a large number of medical conditions, the Social Security Administration may permit you to start receiving your disability benefits prior to formal approval of your claim based on the severity and obvious nature of the severe disability. Total blindness is a good example of such a condition, since it’s usually quite apparent through optometric testing if a claimant has completely lost their vision as opposed to partially lost vision. There are numerous other circumstances that fall into the “presumptive disability” category, including (among many others) the following:

  • Amputation of a leg at the hip
  • Total deafness (inability to perceive sound in either ear)
  • Stroke which occurred more than three months ago, resulting in impaired mobility
  • Cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy resulting in marked difficulty walking, speaking, or using your hands and arms
  • Diagnosis of Non-Mosaic Down syndrome
  • Profound autism spectrum disorder (inability to perform self-care activities such as eating, bathing, etc.) occurring in an individual over four years of age
  • End-stage renal disease requiring chronic dialysis
  • A statement by your doctor that your condition has a life expectancy of six months or less

Of course, these conditions are subject to verification, and it’s always possible a presumptive disability claim will be denied if it’s proven that the severity of said illnesses fall below the diagnostic criteria set forth in SSA’s Listing of Impairments found in their Blue Book. However, if that happens, you won’t be asked to repay any funds you’ve already received to that point (unless the denial was due to technical issues such as excess income or resources). It is very important to note that presumptive disability does not apply to SSDI claims, just SSI claims.

“Compassionate Allowances” Provide Another Avenue to Receiving SSDI Benefits Without Delay

Beyond the conditions listed above, there are more than 200 illnesses that fall under the umbrella of “compassionate allowances” that could result in quicker determination of your SSDI claim due to the severity and functional limitation a diagnosis of the condition entails. The Social Security Administration maintains a complete list of situations that merit a “compassionate allowance” but here are a few of the most familiar:

  • Acute leukemia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Creutzfeldt-Jacobs disease (in adults)
  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Inflammatory breast cancer with distal metastases or inoperability
  • Liver cancer
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Terminal Illnesses Also Qualify for Immediate SSDI Payments

If your condition isn’t considered a “presumptive disability” or included in the lengthy catalog of “compassionate allowances,” your claim can still be expedited if it is determined that your condition is expected to be terminal. Your doctor or another qualified source would simply need to certify that you are suffering from a terminal illness that is expected to end in death. Additionally, if you’re on the nationwide list of people awaiting a major organ (liver, lung, heart) or bone marrow transplant, you’ll likely qualify for special treatment under the “terminal illness” (a.k.a. TERI) SSDI determination process.

Disabled Veterans Are Eligible for Expedited SSDI Decisions

If you fall into this category, first let us thank you for your service. Second, here’s information about your status as a wounded warrior or as an SSDI claimant who became disabled after leaving military duties. The Social Security Administration expedites claims for veterans whose disability compensation rating is designated as “100 Percent Permanent & Total” (100% P&T) by the Veterans Administration. It also provides expedited approval processes for veterans who become disabled while on active duty after October 1, 2001. Social Security Administration officials note that in most cases veterans are identified by the system automatically, but that it would be wise to inform the SSA of their military status to make certain their cases are treated appropriately. For wounded warrior processing, they should be sure to state that their injury occurred while on active duty.

Other Circumstances Could Speed Up the Approval Process as Well

Beyond these instances, special consideration is given to applicants waiting for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge who have “dire need,” meaning they’re likely to lose their homes or experience other major hardships in accessing food, medical care, or shelter if their claim is delayed. Likewise, if an applicant is deemed to be displaying suicidal or homicidal behavior, it’s also possible to speed up the process by designating the claim for critical case processing. The Social Security Disability Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) program offers details on these and other programs tailored to individuals in particularly challenging situations. There’s even a free online course you can take to bring yourself up to speed on SOAR… or perhaps even help you become a certified SOAR case worker who can help others deal with SSDI roadblocks.

You can also ask your congressional representative to intervene on your behalf to ask for a status check on your claim. If you believe your claim is stuck in a bureaucratic back-up, AARP suggests contacting your state’s U.S. senator or member of the U.S. House of Representatives and asking them to check on your claim status… and perhaps to flag it for expedited processing if possible.

A Final Piece of Advice About SSDI Claims

As we’ve already mentioned, the Social Security Administration notes that contacting an attorney who’s well versed in SSDI applications and appeals can help make your claim or appeal more likely to be approved. As always, we’re here for you day or night at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or you can check in with us online anytime 24/7. It costs you nothing, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.