The process to get Social Security Disability (SSD) for a terminal illness in Pittsburgh may proceed more quickly than in a typical case. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses several programs to expedite claims that meet certain, specific guidelines. Those include Terminal Illness (TERI) cases, Quick Disability Determination (QDD), and the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program.
A terminal illness can qualify under most of these programs, but the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD) uses the TERI program specifically to speed the processing of applications based on a terminal illness. They work to identify TERI cases as soon as possible in the disability determination process so they can approve qualifying candidates quickly.
If you suffer from a terminal illness and need help with your claim, the attorneys at Berger and Green are on your side. We can review your claim, help you file an application, and represent you through the appeals process. Call our office today at 412-661-1400 to find out more about getting disability for a terminal illness.
How does the SSA define terminal illness?
According to the rules outlined by the SSA, a terminal illness is both untreatable and life-threatening. If you have an illness your doctor expects will cause your death, your condition may meet these guidelines and qualify for the TERI program. Thanks to the quick processing of these claims, if you can prove you qualify for SSD benefits, you may receive approval in a few weeks.
You may qualify for expedited processing through the TERI program if:
- Your doctor, a family member, or someone else associated with your claim states you have a terminal illness;
- You are receiving hospice care; and
- You file a disability claim based on a condition such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), malignant cancer that is inoperable or recurrent, heart failure, or another untreatable condition likely to result in death.
If you’re unsure if your condition qualifies as a TERI case, contact our disability lawyers today. We can help you determine if you meet the requirements for expedited processing for your disability claim.
How can I get my disability claim flagged as a TERI case?
You can qualify for TERI if you apply for disability benefits online or with a paper application. If you believe the BDD should flag your claim for the TERI program, you should inform them of your terminal illness when you apply. Once they realize you meet the qualifications for the TERI program, the BDD will flag your claim, indicating it is a priority for processing.
When your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits receives a TERI designation, this signals to the BDD to expedite the handling of your claim and to use extra sensitivity when contacting you or your family. This includes not using any language that might indicate a terminal illness or mentioning the TERI designation in communications with the applicant.
For example, imagine an applicant suffering from metastatic breast cancer files a claim for disability benefits. She knows about the TERI program and tells the SSA representative she believes she qualifies when she applies. The representative sees the terminal diagnosis and immediately notes this on the application. As the claim goes through the approval process, every person who comes in contact with it sees the TERI designation and processes it quickly. This application makes it through the determination process in only three weeks and she receives a letter of approval less than a month after she applied. Contrast that with an application without the TERI flag, which can take four months or more to process.
Our attorneys can review your disability claim before you apply to make sure you include the right information about your terminal illness.
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What type of proof do I need to submit to prove my terminal illness?
While a TERI designation expedites the processing of your claim, you still need to provide adequate documentation to prove you qualify for these benefits. Do not underestimate the importance of this documentation. No matter how serious your illness or dire your health, the BDD will not approve your claim for benefits without the proper records.
This means you need to submit contact information for all of your medical providers so that BDD can have records of a well-documented illness that prevents you from working and is untreatable. Most terminal illnesses meet one or more of the criteria the SSA uses to determine if a condition is disabling. In your disability claim, you have to prove your condition through your medical records. Appropriate documentation may include:
- Medical records from your physician and any specialists;
- Pathology findings;
- Laboratory or clinical reports;
- Imaging scans;
- Documentation about hospitalizations;
- Notes from any operations;
- Evidence of treatment efforts, including prescription drug treatments and outcomes;
- Records from any hospice provider; and
- Other information about your current condition or prognosis.
How can a disability lawyer help me get the benefits I deserve?
Unfortunately, applications flagged as TERI cases may still receive a letter of denial if the supporting paperwork is not in order. While these cases receive a special review, a formal appeal is sometimes necessary. If the BDD denied your claim for a terminal illness in Pittsburgh or if you have other questions about the application or appeals process, give us a call. We have the skills and experience to help you secure the benefits you deserve.
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How can I contact an attorney in Pittsburgh to help with my claim?
The attorneys at Berger and Green know how difficult it is to deal with financial stress while also facing a terminal illness. The last thing you want to worry about is how to navigate the appeals process and secure the benefits you need. Let us handle your case while you focus on spending time with your family and friends. Call our Pittsburgh office today at 412-661-1400 to schedule a time to discuss your case.