Q & A
My husband has been in poor health for some time, and doctors have recently diagnosed him with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I’ve heard Social Security has a “fast track” for some people who are disabled. Can you tell me about it?
We have two processes to “fast track” applications for disability benefits. Our Compassionate Allowances initiative allows us to fast-track certain cases of individuals with very severe disabilities. There are 165 different types of disabilities that qualify for this expedited decision, including ALS, and that list continues to expand. Learn more about Compassionate Allowances and see the full list of conditions at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.
Another way we speed up decisions is with our Quick Disability Determinations initiative, which uses technology to identify applicants who have the most severe disabilities and allows us to expedite our decisions on those cases. Read more about Quick Disability Determinations at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/qdd.htm.
What is the difference between the disability application and the disability report? Do I have to complete both?
A disability application is a claim for benefits. To receive Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you must file a disability application.
A disability report provides information about your current physical or mental condition. We need this to process your disability application. In all, to establish a claim, you need to submit a disability application, a disability report, and an authorization to release medical records. You can learn more and apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability.
Is there a time limit on collecting Social Security disability benefits?
Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition does not improve and you remain unable to work. We will review your case at regular intervals to make sure you are still disabled. If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert them to retirement benefits. Learn more by reading our publication, Disability Benefits.
I get Social Security because of a disability. How often will my case be reviewed to determine if I’m still eligible?
How often we review your medical condition depends on how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve. Your award notice tells you when you can expect your first review using the following terminology:
- Medical improvement expected—If your condition is expected to improve within a specific time, your first review will be six to 18 months after you started getting disability benefits.
- Medical improvement possible—If improvement in your medical condition is possible, your case will be reviewed about every three years.
- Medical improvement not expected—If your medical condition is unlikely to improve, your case will be reviewed about once every five to seven years.