Updated July 20, 2018
Quick Disability Determination is a method that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to process disability claims expeditiously (SSDI and SSI claims). The SSA uses a sophisticated predictive computer modeling program to analyze your electronic file for certain factors that show a high probability that the applicant will be found to be disabled. When these criteria are met, the application is sent to a special Quick Disability Determination group for review and decision.
If your disability claim is chosen for QDD, when your claim gets to the QDD unit, a disability claims examiner will review it. If the disability examiner wants to approve your claim for benefits based on the information in your application and medical record, the examiner doesn't have to request that a medical consultant look at your file (unlike in the regular Social Security disability determination process).
Your case could be approved within 15 to 20 days of applying if your medical records are complete and your onset date (the date your disability began) can be quickly determined. But if your alleged onset date—the date in your application you stated your disability started—is more than a few months ago, QDD may deny your claim and put it through the normal determination process. In 2018, the average processing time for QDD cases is 19 days.
If the QDD claims examiner wants to deny you benefits through the QDD system, the examiner must have a medical consultant look at your claim before the QDD is able to deny it.
If the Quick Disability Determination unit doesn't recommend your claim for approval, or doesn't make a "fully favorable" decision on the case (agrees you are disabled, starting on your alleged onset date), or disagrees with the recommendation of the medical consultant, your claim will go back through the regular disability determination process at the Disability Determination Services (a state agency that processes claims for the SSA).
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 get benefits started even before a disability determination is made if their condition qualifies for presumptive disability.