The Social Security Administration (SA) recently announced that it had added 25 new conditions to the compassionate allowances list. If an applicant for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits has one of the conditions on the list, his or her application is fast-tracked so that benefits can be awarded in a timely way.
There are currently 225 conditions on the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. Most of these are very rare illnesses - conditions that only patients and their families know about. However, some of the listed conditions are quite common. This is especially true of the cancers that appear on the list. These are the most frequent reasons why workers apply for SSD benefits through the Compassionate allowance program.
According to an August 2010 report, lung cancers, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, leukemia, esophageal cancer, brain cancer and kidney cancer are the most common reasons that people seek disability benefits under the CAL program. People with these types of cancers who can no longer work may receive benefit decisions in days, rather than the weeks or months usually required to obtain a determination. According to the Social Security Administration, almost 200,000 people have received expedited disability benefits through the program since it began in 2008.
Why was the CAL program started? It began as a way to get benefits quickly to people who clearly met the definition of disability established by the SSA. Around 50 conditions were listed in 2008, and it quickly grew, adding new conditions each year since its beginnings.
The application process is the same as it is for all claimants. However, the SSA has a process for identifying and fast-tracking disability applications for conditions on the list. Such applications do not need the same level of exhaustive review, because people with these conditions clearly meet the SSA's definition of disability. This is why it is possible to process these applications so quickly.
Although nothing is different for claimants, how the SSA handles the application once it is flagged is indeed different. The average wait time in 2010 for a determination under the Compassionate Allowances program was 21 days.
If you or a loved one has a condition on the CAL list of compassionate allowances and have been turned down for SSD benefits, contact Binder & Binder®. We are America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates and have worked with hundreds of thousands of people since our founding in 1975. Call us from anywhere in the United States and its territories to learn how we can help you obtain the benefits you so desperately need.
Source: Office of the Inspector General, "Compassionate Allowances Initiative Audit Report," Aug. 2010.