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SSA's fast-track system for disability determination

When you or a loved one applies for Social Security Disability, you can usually expect to wait several months before your application is approved or denied. In the case of a denial and a subsequent appeal, the wait time can be even longer. For many SSD applicants, this creates a significant hardship, as they are no longer able to work and have no way to pay their bills.

In recognition of this, the Social Security Administration has created two fast-track systems to speed up the application processes for a significant number of Social Security Disability applicants.

Under the Compassionate Allowances initiative, which was created by the SSA in 2007, applicants who are afflicted with one of 100 specified diseases or disabilities may have their application expedited. This means that, when SSA employees receive their applications and note that they have one of the qualifying ailments, they are quickly approved for benefits. Often, these applications are processed and approved in a matter of weeks.

According to SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue, the nature of the ailments covered by the program is reason enough to fast-track the applications. "By definition, these illnesses are so severe that we don't need to fully develop the applicant's work history to make a decision," he said.

The second fast-track system is known as Quick Disability Determination. Under this process, a predictive model analyzes specific elements of information within the SSA's electronic applicant file. The goal of this is to identify claims in which there is a high likelihood of disability qualifying for SSD benefits.

Together, these two processes allowed the SSA to quickly approve more than 100,000 applications in 2010, with 150,000 expected this year.

Source: The Emporia Gazette, "100 Disability conditions fast tracked," Shawn Cole, Sept. 1, 2011

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