Getting Social Security Disability Expedited: Critical Case Handling Practices at SSA

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The Social Security Administration issued new instructions to guide Social Security hearing offices on which cases should be expedited for more rapid "critical case processing procedures."

The amendments to Social Security's HALLEX rules provide for five situations calling for expedited evaluation of pending claims at the hearing level. The five situations are:

  • The claimant's illness is terminal (for example, has metastatic cancer or is on a waiting list for a heart transplant).
  • The claimant can't get food, medicine, or shelter and therefore is considered to be in "dire need." The regulations state that a dire need situation exists when the person is unable to meet "an immediate threat to health or safety, such as the lack of food, clothing, shelter or medical care."
  • The claimant is a military service member who was injured after October 1, 2001 while on active military duty.
  • The claimant is suicidal or homicidal (as indicated by doctors, family, friends, field representatives, or law enforcement).
  • The claim qualifies as a "Compassionate Allowance" case. Social Security has identified over 200 qualifying medical conditions as "Compassionate Allowance" cases that qualify for expedited treatment. The majority, but not all, of the qualifying conditions are terminal in nature. The list includes acute leukemia, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and inoperable cancers or cancers with distant metastases involving the bladder, bone, breast, adrenal, head and neck, and small intestine. For a complete list of the fifty conditions qualifying for "compassionate allowances," please see

For further information concerning the recently enacted changes in the "critical case" regulations, see HALLEX I-2-1-40, which can be found at

  • If You Have Been Denied or Need Help Collecting Social Security Disability, arrange a free consultation with a local Social Security disability lawyer.

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