Compassionate Allowances Program

Dr. Purushothaman
October 10, 2013

Applying for Social Security Disability can become a long, drawn-out process depending on the circumstances; it can take months or even years. Often times, people with rare diseases are initially denied SSI assistance but later reapply, sometimes with the help of an attorney, and ultimately are approved. An estimated 2.5 million Americans file for Social Security Disability benefits yearly, and almost 1.5 million applicants are denied benefits after the first review.

This lengthy process can create financial problems for claimants with very serious medical conditions, who are unable to work or are facing serious medical bills. This is why the Social Security Administration developed the Compassionate Allowances Program in 2008. The program targets those who are unable to work as a result of a medical condition that will last a minimum of one year or that is expected to result in the patient's death. If you've been diagnosed with one of the of 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers on the Compassionate Allowances list, your application will be fast-tracked.

Having one of the conditions on the list won't necessarily guarantee your benefits, you will still need to meet the Social Security program's income requirements or be an insured worker. So what exactly are the Compassionate Allowances Program qualifications? The Commissioner of the Social Security Administration Commissioner has held three Compassionate Allowance public outreach hearings. The first was on rare diseases, the second was on cancers and a third hearing on brain injuries was held on November 18, 2008. SSI selected the medical conditions on the list based on information they received at those public outreach hearings, comments from Disability Determination Services communities, and advice from medical and scientific experts.

The list from 2008 originally had fifty conditions, but in 2010, 38 more conditions were added to the list. Conditions on the list include Acute Leukemia, Lou Gehrig's disease, Zellweger syndrome and various forms of cancer. Currently about 4% of all SSI applications received are eligible for the Compassionate Allowances program, but the list could continue to grow, as there are 6,000 to 7,000 rare diseases known of today.

The Compassionate Allowances Programs helps disabled individuals receive aid more quickly and with fewer complications. There are many times, however, that your application will be turned down on your first try. For this reason, many people will consult a social security disability attorney to make sure you receive your full benefits.


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