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What are Compassionate Allowances?

The Social Security Administration makes a specific effort to provide benefits as quickly as possible to applicants with very serious medical conditions. This process of expedition is part of what the SSA calls Compassionate Allowances, which identified specific diseases and conditions that obviously meet the qualifications, even with minimal medical information.

By decreasing the amount of necessary information and processing the application quickly, benefits can be more quickly received. A common misconception may be that Compassionate Allowances is separate from Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, but it works within those programs, not outside of them.

Conditions that are considered Compassionate Allowances include rare cancers, traumatic brain injury and stroke, early-onset Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, multiple organ transplants and autoimmune diseases. These conditions are typically very serious from the time of diagnosis and will have immediate impact on the ability to work -- making the waiting period for typical processing into a potentially dangerous financial situation. For people coping with these diagnoses, having to wait for a result can mean months without income and unable to pay medical costs and the general costs of living.

This December, the commissioner will publicly commemorate reaching 200 conditions for Compassionate Allowances. Additionally, a small grants program has been instituted for graduate students challenged with improving the disability determination process. The ability to expedite disability claims can bring peace of mind and financial stability to individuals and families who are in great need.

For those applying to Social Security, whether under Compassionate Allowances or not, the process can be intimidating. Consulting an attorney familiar with the Social Security system, including the application process and any necessary appeals, can present options in order to receive benefits as quickly as possible.

Source: Social Security Online, "Compassionate Allowances," Updated: Nov. 26, 2012

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