If you’ve heard that the approval process for Social Security disability payments takes forever, it may discourage you from applying. Don’t let this idea stop you from pursuing the benefits you need! It is possible to secure your claim’s in as little as 14 days. In 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) developed something called the “Quick Disability Determination process.” Your application may qualify for it, and it doesn’t require any extra work on your part.
How Does the Quick Disability Determination Process Work?
The short answer here is “computers.”
The SSA is “committed to providing benefits quickly to claimants whose medical conditions are so serious that they clearly meet our disability standards.” To meet this goal, the agency created two fast-track processes to speed up certain applicants’ claim reviews. The first faster claim review process is called Quick Disability Determinations (QDD). And the second initiative that fast-tracks some people’s SSD claim approvals involves a list of conditions that the SSA calls Compassionate Allowances (CAL). Both use the SSA’s internal systems technology (i.e., computer algorithms) to flag applications from claimants with the most severe disabilities. This allows the agency to speed up their decisions on those cases.
The QDD process uses a “computer-based predictive model” to screen initial applications for disability benefits. This helps them identify cases where a disability determination is highly likely and medical evidence is readily available. By identifying QDD claims early in the process, the agency effectively shuttles those people to the front of the line. This flagging process applied to 4.2% of SSDI claims during 2020 and 2021.
The agency implemented the QDD process nationally in February 2008. The good news is that the computer modeling it uses is designed to improve over time. In other words, the program is even better and faster at flagging Quick Disability Determination-eligible claims than it was when it began. It can now quickly identify strong claims and speed up the process to get payments to those people much sooner.
How Fast Are QDDs Compared to Regular Claim Reviews?
According to the SSA’s own published statistics, the agency processed QDD cases much more quickly than their non-QDD counterparts in recent years. For example, from 2015 to 2020, QDD cases took less than a month on average to process. According to the SSA, the median processing time for a Quick Disability Determination claim review was just 13–14 days.
In comparison, non-QDD cases averaged more than 3 months per claim review. For most applicants, their SSD claim-processing time took anywhere from 83 to 100 days. The COVID-19 pandemic likely hampered this further. In fiscal year 2020, average processing times increased slightly for QDD cases and substantially for non-QDD cases. The mean processing time for non-QDD cases rose from 100 days in 2019 to 113 days in 2020.
In comparison, the mean processing time for QDD cases in fiscal year 2019 was 26 days. That average time increased just one day total for fiscal year 2020, bringing it up to 27.
How to File Your Claim Under the Quick Disability Determination Initiative
File your SSD claim the way you normally would (i.e., online, in person, by phone, or through a disability lawyer). However, make sure to note your eligibility for fast-tracking under the Quick Disability Determination initiative on your application. Claim-processing software will automatically flag your application for fast-tracking through the SSA’s review process. Be aware you that the SSA constantly updates the QDD program’s eligibility requirements.
Once you receive your claim approval by mail, you’ll start receiving SSDI payments in as little as two weeks.
Make sure you’re prepared before you apply:
- Gather all medical evidence proving your disability prevents you from working full-time. Your evidence must clearly show your condition is serious enough to negatively impact your everyday life. To qualify for SSD benefits, your condition must also last at least one year or be expected to result in death.
- Have a lawyer get your application in order, gather the required medical evidence, and then submit your completed paperwork to the SSA. Why do we recommend doing this? Because SSD applicants with attorneys are 2.9x more likely to receive benefit approval in less than 6 months!
- The best time to file your claim under the QDD initiative is right after your doctor diagnoses your health problem(s). Your doctors should provide your relevant medical records to your attorney or the SSA as soon as possible.
The SSA won’t notify you when your application is fast-tracked under the Quick Disability Determination program. However, you’ll receive a letter in the mail explaining whether the SSA approved or denied your claim after they review it.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Not sure which medical records can help fast-track your disability claim? A lawyer can give you free claim guidance that applies to your specific situation over the phone. You’ll also pay nothing now for help filing your claim under the quick disability determination process.
IMPORTANT: Having a lawyer file your application makes you almost three times more likely to get benefits right away. If the SSA doesn’t flag your claim for a QDD review, the regular claim-processing time takes about 3-5 months.
Not sure either where or how to find a qualified disability lawyer to help you? Social Security attorneys always work on contingency. This means that they won’t take on your case unless they believe you qualify for SSD benefits. Thankfully, we can connect you with attorneys in your area for a free, no-obligation claim review.
You’ll owe nothing for legal assistance unless the SSA awards you a lump-sum cash settlement. And if you win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee. Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation today.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.