One of the unfortunate realities of my job is that some of my clients are diagnosed as terminal. While being diagnosed with a terminal illness may seem like an obvious favorable decision for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make, that may not always be the case. Even with this diagnosis the SSA may need more information and can be slow in making a determination. Hopefully your medical provider, family, and Social Security attorney or representative can gather the information to make it easier for the SSA to make the right decision quickly.
The Social Security Administration avoids the words “terminal illness” and instead calls these cases TERI cases. The SSA defines a TERI case as “a medical condition that is untreatable and expected to result in death.” Once this type of designation exists, the SSA attempts to expedite the case in the early and later stages of processing. The SSA has guidelines for identifying these cases and processing them in a particular way.
Getting a medical source statement from your treating physician can be very important. Not only a statement saying the individual is terminal, but also supporting medical evidence establishing a clear diagnosis. Objective testing and progress notes should be submitted to the SSA to show the severity of the condition. Many physicians are hesitant to make such statements until all medical avenues have been exhausted. If you find yourself in this situation it may be in your best interest to let your physician know you are dealing with the Social Security Administration.
If you or a family member finds themselves in this situation, I urge you to contact the SSA as soon as possible to start this process. Qualified Social Security disability attorneys and representatives can also provide guidance on filling out paperwork and working with the SSA to process these claims.
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Author: Scott Lewis