Quick Disability Determination Process for Social Security Disability Cases

The Quick Disability Determination Process allows some claimants to get disability benefits much faster than the regular process. You could get an answer on a QDD claim in two weeks.

By , Attorney (Seattle University School of Law)

Quick Disability Determination (QDD) is one of the "fast-track" methods that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to approve disability benefits in as soon as a few days. When you complete your disability application, Social Security creates an electronic file with your information and medical history. QDD uses a predictive computer modeling program to screen your file for factors that suggest you're highly likely to be awarded benefits and flags it for speedy processing.

How QDD Cases Are Processed

The QDD computer program scans your file for certain phrases that indicate that you're likely to be found disabled. For example, the QDD program picks up on keywords for medical conditions that might meet one of the SSA's medical listings.

If the program finds these keywords, it then checks to make sure your application has all the necessary documentation. Once these criteria are met, the application is sent to a special group of QDD claims examiners, who'll look at your file and make a determination.

How Fast Can Disability Claims Be Approved Under QDD?

Social Security likes to get the ball rolling right away when it comes to QDD claims. A disability examiner should start looking at your file a day or two after they've received it. If your medical records are complete and the QDD unit agrees with your alleged onset date (the date when you became disabled), you could be approved in less than a month.

According to the most recent Social Security statistics available, QDD cases have been taking an average of 27 days, but the median (how long it takes for most QSS cases to be decided) is only 13 days. That means that there are some QDD cases that take longer than a month.

But if your record doesn't contain enough medical evidence, or the date you became disabled is harder to determine, the QDD examiner may take your application off the fast track. This doesn't mean that you'll be denied benefits, just that your claim will be processed through the SSA's usual (slower) channels.

Other Expedited Processing Programs

The Social Security Administration also expedites disability decisions for terminal illness cases (TERI) and Compassionate Allowance cases (for cancers and other easily diagnosed illnesses). And for SSI (Supplemental Security Income), some applicants can receive benefits even before a disability determination is made if their condition qualifies for "presumptive disability."

Updated September 29, 2023

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