I applied for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) at the same time as an acquaintance. She is already receiving benefits while I am still waiting for a decision. Why do some people get their benefits faster?

In Nebraska, the average wait time for an initial decision on Social Security disability benefits is four months. If you are denied and request reconsideration it takes another two to three months for a decision. If you have to appeal and request a hearing it will take another 12 to 14 months for hearing.This doesn't mean that everyone will wait 18 months for a decision. There are several factors that determine how quickly you will get benefits after applying for Social Security disability.

Severity of the Disability

The first factor is the severity of the disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers faster processing for people with certain disabilities. People who qualify for Quick Disability Determination (QDD) or Compassionate Allowances (CAL) may receive benefits in as little as a week after applying.

CALs are available only to those with one of the 200 conditions approved by Congress for the Compassionate Allowance Program. These conditions include late stage cancers, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other conditions that are so severe that the SSA does not need a work history in order to make a decision about benefits. A decision can be made as soon as the SSA receives medical proof of the condition.

Quick Disability Determination uses a computer-model to screen all initial applications for cases where medical evidence is readily available and a favorable disability determination is likely. If the criteria for a QDD are met, then the application is sent to a special QDD examiner for review and an expedited decision. Unlike other cases, applications that qualify for QDD do not have to be reviewed by a medical consultant for approval. If your application is denied by the QDD examiner, it will be reviewed by a medical consultant and will go through the normal determination process.

The SSA also expedites disability decisions for terminal illness cases.

Completeness of Application

Another factor in the amount of time it will take to get a decision is the completeness of your application.  It is very important that you fill out the application completely and provide all necessary supporting information. It only makes sense that your wait time will be longer if the SSA has to track down your doctor’s address in order to get your medical records, or if they can’t make a decision because you haven’t received a proper diagnosis.

If filling out paperwork and tracking down your medical records is a challenge, a Nebraska disability lawyer can help. The Omaha SSDI attorneys at Cuddigan Law have helped many applicants through the Nebraska SSDI application process, improving their chances of a positive decision. To learn more, request a free copy of our booklet, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405.