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SSA Compassionate Allowances Program


The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program to quickly identify claims in which the applicant has a disease or medical condition that clearly qualifies for disability benefits. Rare and terminal diseases, certain cancers and brain disorders are on the CAL list, as are some rare disorders that affect children. The list contains serious medical conditions that clearly qualify.

Certain diseases like HIV/AIDs are not automatically on the SSA list, but if your case is severe enough or complex enough, you will qualify for benefits. In the case of terminal illnesses, CAL can overlap with SSA’s terminal illness program (TERI).

The SSA has a tremendous backlog of disability claims—millions in fact—so wait times are long. The CAL program is a way for SSA to fast-track a disability determination for benefits for people with these serious conditions. The SSA maintains a list of Social Security disabling conditions that meet the Compassionate Allowances program requirements.

Under the Compassionate Allowance program, you have to provide minimal medical data for SSA to review and approve your benefits. For example, submit a diagnosis report, test result or biopsy result to SSA. The decision is expedited, with SSA usually responding within 10 days after you file. It’s best to submit medical records yourself rather than waiting for your doctor to forward records to SSA; medical providers sometimes take too long to provide records.

The drawback is that although the CAL benefit approval is done quickly, payments are not–you still must wait five months to actually receive your benefit payments. There is a program called presumptive benefits, and SSA will start paying monthly benefits prior to claim approval in cases where it is highly likely your claim will qualify.

Note that CAL rules apply for both of the government’s disability programs, SSDI and SSI. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is SSA’s standard disability program for disabled people with a prior work history, meaning they’ve contributed taxes to the SSA program. On the other hand, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a low-income needs-based program to supplement the basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) of individuals and families. SSI is a federal program paid from general tax revenues and not from the SSA program.

All these rules, regulations and filings can be confusing and time consuming. Consider hiring London Disability to help you file your claim. We have helped many clients with SSI and SSDI filings.

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