The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers programs to provide financial assistance to those in need. Among these programs is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Your SSDI claim may qualify for expedited TERI case processing if you have a terminal illness.
What Is a TERI Case?
The SSA established Terminal Illness (TERI) case processing to provide a streamlined process for those individuals to receive disability benefits. Any untreatable medical condition expected to result in death is a terminal illness. Your local field office of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) may identify a TERI case.
How Does TERI Work?
Once the SSA knows an applicant has a terminal illness, it will flag the case as a TERI claim. Your claim will be processed through the TERI program. This designation is confidential, so the words ‘terminal’ or ‘terminal illness’ will not appear in any letters you receive.
Who Qualifies for Expedited TERI Case Processing?
The primary qualifier for terminal illness cases is a diagnosis of a terminal illness. The SSA uses the following criteria to identify TERI cases that qualify for the fast track:
- An allegation (e.g., from the claimant, a friend, family member, doctor, or other medical source) that the illness is terminal.
- An allegation or diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
- An allegation or diagnosis of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), see Processing Claims for Individuals with An Allegation of Human Immunodeficiency Virus [HIV] Infection DI 11055.241; or
- The claimant receives inpatient or home hospice care, e.g., in-home counseling or nursing care.
The claimant alleges that medical records indicate an untreatable impairment, i.e., the impairment cannot be reversed and is expected to end in death. These impairments include, but are not limited to:
- Chronic dependence on a cardiopulmonary life-sustaining device.
- Awaiting a heart, heart/lung, lung, liver, or bone marrow transplant (excludes kidney and corneal transplants).
- Chronic pulmonary or heart failure requiring continuous home oxygen and an inability to care for personal needs.
- Any cancer (malignant neoplasm) which is:
- Metastatic (has spread).
- Defined as Stage IV.
- Persistent or recurrent following initial therapy; or
- Inoperable or unresectable.
- An allegation or diagnosis of:
- Cancer of the esophagus, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or brain.
- Small Cell or Oat Cell lung cancer; or
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) or Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL).
- Comatose for 30 days or more.
- Newborn with a lethal genetic or congenital defect.
It’s important to note that having one of the mentioned conditions does not automatically qualify someone for TERI. The above list is not all-inclusive but serves as a guide to identifying TERI cases. The Disability Determination Service reviews each case individually.
How Do I Ensure the SSA Recognizes My TERI Case?
Applying for SSDI benefits under TERI is like the regular SSDI application process. Here are the steps:
- Gather Evidence: Ensure you have all your medical records, doctor’s statements, and any other evidence proving your terminal illness.
- Apply: You can apply online through the SSA’s website, in person at a local SSA office, or over the phone.
- Inform the SSA: Tell the SSA representative you have a terminal illness. This will help them flag your application for expedited TERI processing.
- Await a Decision: Due to the TERI designation, the decision will often come faster than standard SSDI applications. If approved, benefits can start almost immediately.
Get Help with Your Claim
A diagnosis of a terminal illness can be one of the most challenging moments in someone’s life. The emotional and financial strain can be overwhelming. The TERI program aims to alleviate financial burdens by providing expedited access to necessary benefits.
If you or a loved one need help with a disability claim, contact Ortiz Law Firm. Call us today at (888) 321-8131 to schedule a free consultation.