Can I receive Social Security benefits if I have been diagnosed with a terminal illness?

Yes, you can receive Social Security disability benefits if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and you meet the requirements of the Social Security disability program. In fact, your application for benefits may be expedited through the Social Security Administration’s terminal illness program known as TERI.

Are You Eligible for TERI?

According to the Social Security Administration, you may be eligible for TERI if you are diagnosed with “a medical condition that is untreatable and expected to result in death.” Some conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), may automatically classify your application as a TERI case. Other conditions that are often added to the TERI program include some forms of cancer, chronic heart failure, fatal genetic issues in newborns, and those on life-sustaining devices such as a ventilator.

You may claim that you have such a condition in your Social Security disability application, or the Disability Determination Services (DDS) may identify your application as a TERI case based on the content of your application.

DDS is not required to tell you that your case is being considered as a TERI case and is specifically instructed by the Social Security Administration not to use the word terminal in anything that is made available to you.

Who Makes Sure TERI Cases Are Expedited?

That is the responsibility of DDS management and the Social Security Administration’s field offices. DDS management is supposed to follow up on a TERI case every 10 days until an eligibility determination is made. If a determination is not made within 30 days, the field office should become involved.

If you are suffering from a terminal illness and you qualify for Social Security disability, you have the right to have your application expedited and to start receiving benefits as soon as possible. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve. Please contact us today to learn more.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law