Of course, people die all the time waiting for Social Security to make a decision. It happens far more often than it should and it's a real problem. Let's not forget, Social Security's definition of disability is a condition that will prevent you from working for twelve months or longer or will result in death.
If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, your case will be expedited through Social Security. You can apply at home or with Social Security directly over the phone or in their local office. You should ask to be designated a "TERI" case but Social Security also designates cases on their own as well. If you ask to be designated a TERI case and they don't think you meet the criteria, Social Security will just handle your case like any other so it doesn't hurt to ask. A case is considered a TERI case if the condition is "untreatable and expected to result in death." You can find more about TERI cases here. If your case is a TERI case, you can expect to be approved for benefits in about four to six weeks.
TERI cases do not receive any more money than other cases. They do not receive Medicare any earlier. If it is an SSDI case, they are still subject to the five month waiting period after the onset of disability before they get paid. The difference is that instead of their case taking between six to eight months to get processed, they take four to six weeks. Generally there are no consultative exams and you usually do not have to fill out any additional forms.
There are also compassionate allowances. These are not exactly the same thing as a TERI case although there may be some overlap. Compassionate allowances are for conditions that are so severe that just by having one of them you obviously qualify for disability. They do not necessarily have to be terminal diseases. The list can be found here. Most of the compassionate allowances are (thankfully) rare diseases or advanced forms of cancer. The list also includes ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease where just the diagnosis alone is enough for disability. Like the TERI cases, there is no additional money, nor do you get any additional benefit but the cases are supposed to be expedited because of the diagnosis. If you think you qualify under one of the compassionate allowances, you should mention it when you apply because these cases are not always expedited as quickly as the TERI cases.
Insurance is included with approval of benefits which is a main reason why people apply for disability benefits when they're not sure they will receive much of a benefit otherwise. You can always go to healthcare.gov or contact your friendly neighborhood insurance agent for insurance information. If you lost your insurance because you can no longer work, that is a qualifying event and you can sign up for insurance without having to wait for open enrollment. Thanks to Obamacare, you will have insurance options. Once you are approved for Social Security, you will be able to get AHCCCCS in Arizona until your Medicare starts. You can get Medicare if you qualify for SSDI and it has been two years and six months since the date you became disabled.
Your children can also collect benefits while you are disabled if you qualify for SSDI. They can collect until they are 18 or graduate from high school. If a parent dies, they can collect half their parent's retirement until they turn 18 or graduate from high school. You can read more information about children's benefits here.
Widows or widowers can collect under their spouse's Social Security earnings record when they are 60. If they are disabled, they can do so at age 50. Divorced spouses can even collect if the marriage lasted over ten years.
Social Security offers a one time death benefit of $250.00 to the next of kin to help with funeral expenses.
There are also lots of other resources out there for people who are having a hard time. We have many resources listed on our website and we add more constantly. You can also go to arizonaselfhelp.org and put in all of your information. It will give you every kind of help that you might qualify for with phone numbers and addresses. There is no reason not to get all the help you possibly can when going through a tough time.
If you have any questions, please contact The Foster Law Firm at (844)303-0735.