Disability Benefits

Compassionate Allowances

Social Security Announces Compassionate Allowances Fast-Track Disability Benefits Review

On October 27 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a new program that will allow decisions on disability benefits to be fast-tracked for applicants who suffer from certain severe medical conditions. This program comes as part of an effort to overhaul the system and reduce the backlog of approximately 750,000 applicants who now must wait an average of over 500 days to have their applications reviewed. 

Over the past few years, there have been numerous accounts in the media of critically ill Americans who attempted to receive Social Security disability benefits, but ran up against incessant delays in processing their applications, causing them to become financially destitute, homeless, or even die while waiting for their cases to be heard.

The new program is called Compassionate Allowances, and it will allow applicants who have one of 50 serious conditions to get decisions on their application for disability benefits in as little as six days. The commisioner of Social Security, Michael J Astrue, indicated that additional conditions will be added to the list. The conditions on the list are considered to be serious enough that just a medical confirmation of the diagnosis is enough to substantiate the applicant's inability to work.

Another part of the new process, already in place, reviews all new disability claims and flags the most obvious ones for what's referred to as 'Quick Disability Determination'. The new list serves to expand the number of conditions that qualify for that quick determination. While, by law, disability benefit beneficiaries must still wait 5 months before they receive their first payment, the Compassionate Allowances program is a great step in the right direction for individuals suffering from serious illness.