'Compassionate Allowances' Process Speeds Up Disability Applications

Red CrossApplicants for Social Security disability benefits often have to wait months, if not years, before they finally receive a check from the government, even if they are clearly eligible for benefits. However, in certain circumstances the Social Security Administration (SSA) will fast-track a disability benefits application through a process known as Compassionate Allowances, usually because the applicant is suffering from a severe disability that may be life-threatening.

When a person with disabilities submits an application for benefits, the SSA passes the application through a rigorous five-step process to ensure that the applicant truly needs assistance. The SSA first checks to see if the applicant is working, and then assesses whether the applicant is suffering from a "severe" medical condition. In the third step of the process, the SSA compares the beneficiary's condition to a list of impairments that normally qualify a person for benefits without further assessment. When a person's condition matches a condition on the list of impairments, the SSA presumes that the applicant has a disability and typically awards benefits without proceeding through the final two steps.

Unfortunately, applicants typically have to wait for a long time before arriving at this third step in the evaluation process. Compassionate Allowances speed this process up by defining specific conditions that "obviously meet disability standards." These conditions include many types of cancer, as well as other chronic, and often terminal, afflictions. If an applicant is suffering from any of the conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list, his application is fast-tracked because it is presumed that he is a person with disabilities. This speeds up the application process and assists people suffering from serious conditions by awarding benefits in a timely manner when they need them most.

To read more about Compassionate Allowances, and to view a list of the conditions that qualify for an Allowance, click here.

Article Last Modified: 08/31/2009

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