When you’re disabled and unable to work, the wait to get your Social Security Disability (SSDI) application approved can be excruciating. The official processing time for an initial application has ballooned from four months to seven in the last few years (and those more intimately aware of the situation say that you’re realistically looking at between eight and 12). If your initial claim is denied, you’re looking at much, much longer.
There are programs and initiatives that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to speed up claims in certain situations. For example, people with certain virtually unquestionable disabilities may qualify for an expedited claims process through either the Compassionate Allowance program or the TERI initiative for those with terminal illnesses. Claims by veterans who have already received a 100% permanent and total disability rating are also given priority processing.
What if you don’t qualify for any type of expedited process?
If you don’t fit into a category that qualifies your claim for special handling, there are still things you can do to make your SSDI claim move along as quickly as possible. These include:
- Make sure that you complete the initial application with as much information as possible. Be sure to list all of your medical problems, even minor ones, so that everything can be considered together. Answer all of the questions on the application fully, if at all possible.
- Include as much medical documentation as possible with your claim. One of the things that slows down many SSDI claims (and leads to denials) is the process of trying to get medical records from hospitals, clinics and doctors.
- Respond promptly to any contacts from the Disability Determination Services (DDS). DDS is where the decision on your claim is actually made. They may contact you to ask clarifying questions, request more information about your daily activities and limitations, ask you for more medical release forms or even send you to a consultative physician for an evaluation. The slower you are to respond, the slower your claim will progress.
Finally, you may want to consider seeking legal assistance with your application. It takes experience to understand exactly how to present the information related to your claim so that it stands the best chance of approval the first time around.