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You may, or may not, think of yourself as a terminally ill patient. Instead, you think of yourself as part of a family or community. You don’t want to be a burden and you certainly don’t want your financial problems to become someone else’s responsibility. Accordingly, you are seeking Social Security disability benefits since you can no longer work.

How Long Will It Take?

It typically takes months—or longer—for a determination to be made regarding Social Security disability. However, if you have a terminal illness, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Terminal Illness Program (TERI) may result in your claim being expedited. If you have a terminal illness, it is important to know that:

  • TERI may apply even if you don’t request it. If you have a terminal illness, you have the right to identify it as such on your Social Security disability application. Alternatively, a friend, relative, doctor, social worker, or other concerned party could notify Disability Determination Services (DDS) of your prognosis.
  • Any terminal illness qualifies an application for TERI. This includes many types of metastatic cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS, chronic heart failure, chronic pulmonary failure, waiting for certain organ transplants, and any condition that has an applicant in a coma. Applicants who are receiving inpatient or home-based hospice care also qualify for TERI. Other medical conditions may also be considered terminal.

If you have questions about the TERI system, or about other ways to expedite your social Security disability case, it is important to get them answered before you submit an application. It is also important for your application to be complete and to include all necessary supporting documentation before it is submitted whether or not you are part of the TERI program, because incomplete applications will be denied regardless of your illness.

To get started with your own Social Security disability claim, please start an online chat with us now.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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