The Social Security Administration (SSA) cannot keep up with the number of applications they receive for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Because of the incredibly high volume of applications, there is a large backlog of resulting in a 3-6 month wait before an applicant receives any decision. You may be thinking that 3-6 months is a reasonable amount of time to await a decision considering that the SSA needs to collect or acquire your medical records and thoroughly review your application. Unfortunately, more than half of the initial SSD applications are denied. After the appeal process and waiting for the scheduled onset date of benefits, it takes on average 2-3 years to receive Social Security Disability benefits. That's 2-3 years of little to no income.
Because of the long wait time, many people with severe or fatal conditions may never receive the benefits they deserve because they run out of time. This led to the creation of the Compassionate Allowances initiative.
What are Compassionate Allowances?
The Social Security Administration defines Compassionate Allowances as "a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security's standards for benefits.
The program was created to streamline applications with specific, disabling conditions. This both helps those suffering from extremely severe and/or rare conditions to receive benefits as well as SSA workers that read the applications. By creating a specific list of qualifying diseases and conditions that belong to the program it creates clarity about who can apply and be approved through Compassionate Allowances.
Those who apply through Compassionate Allowances receive an approval or denial within one month, sometimes as little as 10 days after submitting the application. While applications through this program receive a quicker decision, they still must wait for 1-2 months before receiving the benefits. While it's not perfect, it is still considerably quicker than not applying through the program.
Do I Qualify for Compassionate Allowances?
To qualify for this fast track program, you must meet all of the criteria to receive Social Security Disability benefits as well as have a condition that is on the Compassionate Allowances list (CAL). To prove your condition, you will need a physician to verify it for the application. It takes weeks for the SSA to receive official medical records, so your doctor may receive a direct phone call to verify the information and quicken the process.
Common Compassionate Allowances conditions include certain cancers, brain disorders, and rare disorders that affect children. There are over 200 conditions that qualify for the program, all of which are either extremely severe or rare. The SSA adds new conditions yearly and if you believe a condition deserves to be including in the Compassionate Allowances program you can submit the information of the SSA's website.
How to Apply for Compassionate Allowances
Fortunately, there is no additional work that goes into applying for Compassionate Allowances. Fill out the Disability Benefits application as normal and the Social Security Administration will cross-check your condition to the CAL. If the application is filled out correctly and the SSA has all of the required documentation then they will streamline the process and hasten the approval on their own.