Social Security Disability & Terminal Illnesses: What You Need to Know

There aren’t words to express how hard it is to receive the diagnosis of a terminal disease. In cases where a patient is not expected to recover and is not expected to survive over a long period of time, it can be even more important for the sufferer to receive financial support through Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits.

Terminal Illness Cases May Be Fast-Tracked

Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) realizes the importance of quick action in this situation, the agency expedites terminal illness disability claims. This process is known as the TERI program.

Although the SSA won’t likely tell you if they’ve marked your case as a TERI case, there are a few steps you can take to improve the chances that your claim will be expedited if you suffer from a terminal illness. Specifically, you can:

  • Make sure your doctor has officially diagnosed you with a terminal illness and that the diagnosis appears in your medical records.
  • Make sure your Social Security contact at the field office of Disability Determination Services is made aware that your illness is terminal.
  • Make sure that, if your health condition is not listed as a common TERI illness, your SSA contact understands that you will not recover from your illness and that the prognosis is death.
  • Let your Social Security contact know if you are specifically suffering from Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
  • Check to see if your illness is on the list of compassionate allowances.
  • Check to see if your illness is on the list for Quick Disability Determination.
  • Understand that even if you don’t suffer from a terminal illness that is specifically listed as an acceptable TERI case you may still be eligible for TERI processing.

What Illnesses Are Included in the TERI Program?

Unlike the list of compassionate allowances, the list of terminal illnesses included in the TERI program is not all-inclusive. As long as evidence exists that the health condition is deadly, applicants may be processed through the TERI program.

Some of the specific conditions considered in the TERI program include:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • AIDS
  • Chronic heart failure that requires oxygen use
  • Esophagus cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
  • State IV malignant cancer
  • Recurrent cancer
  • Inoperable or untreatable cancer
  • Waiting for a heart, lung, liver, or bone marrow transplant
  • Depending on a life-sustaining cardiopulmonary device
  • Being in a coma for a month or longer

When you are terminally ill, it is that much more important to get the disability benefits you need to support your family and look after your wellbeing. A Social Security disability lawyer can help you make certain that your case gets the time and attention it deserves—and that you get your benefits as soon as possible. Please contact us via this website today to learn more.

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