An early decision on Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is simply any determination made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) regarding eligibility that comes sooner than the typical timeframe for the majority of applicants. Most SSD applicants wait months and even as much as two years for a determination to be made on their eligibility for benefits. Any decision that comes within the first four to six months is generally considered to be an early decision, though in most instances, “early decisions” refers to a favorable determination, or one in which the applicant is found eligible for SSD benefits.
There are two primary circumstances under which an SSD early decision is made. The first is when you have a condition that falls under the compassionate allowances (CAL) program of the SSA. The CAL program is designed to expedite approval for disability benefits for applicants that clearly suffer from a terminal illness or inherently disabling condition.
SSD applications approved under the CAL program must still contain the appropriate medical documentation for supporting your claim for disability. Thorough documentation reduces the likelihood of delays caused by the SSA investigating your condition further.
The second instance in which an early determination is typically made is when an applicant has a well documented and extremely thorough case file. Having the right medical documentation to fully meet the SSA’s bluebook definition of a disabling condition makes the determination of eligibility much simpler for the SSA.
The bluebook is the SSA’s manual describing the details of known disabling conditions. It outlines which conditions qualify for SSD benefits and the kind of medical documentation and other proof required for meeting the SSA’s guidelines with any specific diagnosis.
Of course, there are other factors that can play into how long a disability determination may take. These include how long it takes for your doctor(s) to respond to any requests from the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office for additional information and whether the DDS finds that an independent evaluation of your medical condition is required to make a final decision on your eligibility for benefits.
To increase your chances of receiving an early decision on SSD, you should ensure you put together as complete of an application as you possibly can. This makes it less likely the SSA will need to request more information from your doctor or doctors and can also reduce the chances they’ll need to send you for an independent evaluation of your condition. Consulting a Social Security disability lawyer that is familiar with the process for proving a disability can also help shorten your wait for disability benefits.