Individuals can wait up to three months for a response from the Social Security Administration to see if they qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Those who qualify for a “Compassionate Allowance” or have a "Presumptive Blindness" or "Presumptive Disability," however, do not need to wait as long to receive benefits after submitting an application as the Social Security Administration uses the "Quick Disability Determination" process for these cases. Disability lawyer John F. Sharpless states that the Quick Disability Determination process can help applicants qualify for Social Security Disability in 20 days or less.
To qualify to receive SSDI, an applicant must be 18 years old or older, have a disability or be blind. The applicant must also be a United States citizen or a legal immigrant who has paid Social Security taxes. The length of time requirement for having paid Social Security taxes depends on the individual’s income and age.
In addition to blindness, conditions that qualify as a disability are those that the SSA states are severe and obvious. The disabling condition must last, or be expected to last, a minimum of 12 months or result in the applicant’s death. Because of the disability, the individual must not be able to participate in gainful activities, such as a job. Conditions that may qualify as a disability include immune system disorders, as well as disorders that affect the digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, neurological and musculoskeletal systems. Genitourinary impairments, neoplastic diseases and mental or skin disorders could also qualify as disabling conditions that would enable an individual to receive SSDI.
Compassionate Allowance Qualifications
The SSA gives special considerations to those who have medical conditions that are so severe that there is no doubt an applicant has a disabling condition, regardless of the length of time the applicant has had the condition. According to the SSA, individuals who have a “Compassionate Allowance Condition,” do not need to wait as long to receive SSDI benefits. This is because the SSA targets individuals who are obviously disabled. These applicants must provide objective medical information on an application that the SSSA can quickly verify with medical providers. Conditions that qualify for a Compassionate Allowance include cancer, thanatophoric dysplasia, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Hunter syndrome, salivary tumors and Fukuyama congenital muscular dystrophy.
Presumptive Blindness and Presumptive Disability Qualifications
Those who have a Presumptive Blindness or a Presumptive Disability are blind or have an obviously disabling condition that does not qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. The SSA states that individuals with a Presumptive Disability must meet all of the SSDI qualifications, including the inability to participate in substantial gainful activities for 12 months or more.
Obtaining the SSDI Application
The quickest way to apply for SSDI is online through the SSA.gov website. Because the SSDI can take more than an hour to fill out, applicants have the ability to save their application and return to it later. Those who do not have an Internet connection can ask their local SSA office to mail them an SSDI application. Alternatively, applicants can request a telephone or in-person meeting with an SSA representative who can assist with the SSDI application during the meeting.
Filling Out the SSDI Application
The sooner individuals fill out SSDI applications and submit them, the sooner they can qualify for SSDI. When filling out the application, it is helpful to gather information about the previous year’s tax return, military discharge information -- if applicable, the contact information for current employers, employment and wage history, as well as detailed information about the disabling condition and treatments received. In addition to personal financial information, individuals must provide the onset dates; the contact information for physicians who have treated the condition; the dates of applicable medical tests and labs, hospitalization and doctors appointments; and a list of medications the applicant takes.