Applicants for Social Security disability benefits who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness are provided an avenue for a more rapid approval process, known as the terminal illness program (TERI). Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates explain this expedited acceptance process.

How are Terminal Illness Cases Identified?

Terminal illness cases, known as TERI cases, are those that are likely to result in the applicant’s death. The applicant does not have to indicate on their application that their illness or condition is terminal; rather, a claims examiner at Disability Determination Services (DDS) or a field office representative will send the claim into the TERI program once an individual associated with the claim—a doctor, family member or friend—states that the illness or condition is likely to result in death.

An applicant receiving inpatient hospice care or home hospice care will also qualify, as well as any applicant diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

It is important to note that although these types of cases will be sent into the TERI program, they will not be officially considered a TERI case until a medical consultant has reviewed the case. This is standard procedure with any disability case. Should a case be filed under the TERI program, the applicant will not be notified of the terminal status of their claim.

What Illnesses and Conditions Qualify for the TERI Program?

Any terminal illness may qualify for the TERI program; however, there are a few that are most commonly accepted. These include cancers that are metastatic, Stage IV, inoperable or recurrent following therapy—cancer of the brain, liver, gallbladder, esophagus or pancreas often qualify regardless of whether these other factors are present. Conditions and illnesses that also often qualify include:

  • Small cell or oat cell lung cancer
  • Chronic heart or pulmonary failure
  • Fatal genetic or congenital defects in newborns
  • Mesothelioma
  • Liver, lung, heart or bone marrow failure that requires the need for a transplant

This is not an exhaustive list, and as mentioned, any illness determined to be terminal may qualify for the TERI program. Consult a Social Security disability advocate to learn more about common terminal conditions.

How Long Does It Take to Process a TERI Case?

Many TERI cases are processed in approximately 30 days; however, every case is different, and some may be processed in a longer or shorter time frame. This will depend on the unique aspects of your case.

Regardless of whether an applicant has a terminal or non-terminal disease, many Social Security disability claims are processed much more rapidly with the assistance of an experienced disability attorney. The attorneys at Disability Associates are dedicated to helping applicants and their loved ones apply for and receive the disability benefits they deserve—for more information, or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today.