Social Security Disability Fast Track Approval Process
A recent social security administration news release focuses on two recent (relatively recent, that is) initiatives put into place by SSA. One is the compassionate allowance program, and the other is the QDD, or quick disability determination program.
The release states that these two programs are responsible for expediting or speeding up about four percent of all disability cases moving through the SSD and SSI system. It goes on to say that this translates to as much as 125,000 disability claimants being approved for disability in ten days instead of waiting the normal amount of time for a decision on a disability application to be made (typically, 3-4 months, but, sometimes, depending on the particulars of a disability case, much much longer).
Sounds nice. However, the release does not mention the fact that this does nothing about the five month waiting period that exists to essentially take away a social security disability claimant's first five months of benefits (the five month waiting period does not apply to SSI disability).
The five month waiting period is equivalent to an elimination period on a private disability policy. Why does it exist? The federal government might argue that it exists because an individual "might" have short term disability insurance (a strange assumption to make about the general population when you consider the fact that the social security administration does not even provide its own workers with short term disability benefits). However, any rationale for the 5 month waiting period is essentially bogus nonsense. It really exists to save the government from paying five precious months of benefits. And that's it, period.
Now, the five month waiting period in very many disability cases has no impact on a disability claimant's ability to begin receiving their monthly disability benefits after they have been approved to receive them. This is because the wait for disability benefits is usually so god-awful long that by the time most claimants have been approved for disability, they have already "served" the five month waiting period and, thus, it does not hold up the receipt of their benefits.
But...claimants who are approved for disability in 10 days, as SSA claims will happen for about 4 percent of disability applicants, will, obviously, not have already waited out the 5 month waiting period. Translation: getting approved under the compassionate allowance or QDD programs may not rush benefits any faster for many claimants because they will still have to...serve out the five month waiting period.
There are certain scenarios in which this will not occur, of course. As I said, there is no waiting period for SSI. Also, claimants who allege (when they file for disability) an onset date that is earlier than their actual application date and have medical records to back this up may be given up to 12 months of retroactive benefits which can eliminate the five month waiting period (there are no retroactive benefits for SSI).
However, the point to take away from all this is this: when the social security administration proclaims they've done something wonderful, look for the details to see if it walks like it talks. In this case, it's fairly clear that, for many claimants, getting a faster approval will not bring all-important benefits any faster unless the five month waiting period is eliminated. Think about it---most people don't have short term disability insurance, SSI is not subject to the waiting period, and the social security administration does not even offer short term disability coverage to its own employees.
Proposal to the government: Get rid of the five month waiting period and stop cheating social security disability recipients out of nearly a half year of benefits.
And while you're at it, get rid of the 24 month waiting period for medicare as well. I mean, good grief, someone is ill or injured enough that they can actually qualify for disability and somehow we expect that they can satisfactorily exist out there--for potentially a very long period--without access to medical care? What kind of illogical nonsense is that?
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
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