SSA/SSI Disability Update


As many of our clients know, there are tremendous backlogs on Social Security and SSI claims such that a disability appeal at the administrative law judge level can take up to 2.5 years before it is heard. The current average in the Columbia, South Carolina ODAR office is 550 working days after it reaches the administrative law judge level. Considering the initial and reconsideration levels take an average of 6 months that is 3 years from when one applies for benefits to when benefits are awarded. Therefore, we encourage clients to utilize unemployment benefits while they build their medical documentation of any alleged impairments and consider vocational rehabilitation services before applying for Social Security Disability.


On Feb 10, 2010 the SSA approved 38 new medical conditions that qualify for Compassionate Allowances, which means Americans with these rare and devastating disabilities can now be approved in weeks, not months or years. The list includes early onset Alzheimer’s and rare diseases that primarily affect children. For the complete list go to


The SSA is proposing the elimination of the listings for diabetes and thyroid disorders due to earlier detection, better management techniques and effective treatments. In the past the SSA eliminated obesity and attention deficit disorder as Listings and dramatically changed the Listing for heart conditions. Regulations for alcohol and drug related conditions are expected to be clarified in the near future with more restrictive criteria put in place. And there is discussion of adding the effects of ongoing tobacco use.


Disclaimer:  Information contained in this column is meant to be of general information on frequently asked questions concerning disability, elder law, estate planning and probate law, and does not contain specific legal advice to a client.  No attorney-client relationship is created by reading this column.

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