Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances Program



The Social Security Administration (SSA) is notorious for its slow pace in processing claims, especially if the person making the claim has been denied and is seeking an appeal hearing to contest. Applicants can wait months or even a year or longer for the chance to begin receiving benefits. However, when an applicant’s medical condition is serious enough that it obviously meets the SSA’s definition of a disability, the SSA has a duty to provide benefits more quickly through its compassionate allowances (CAL) program and quick disability determination process (QDD).

Not everyone will qualify for these programs. The condition must be severe and the SSA has its own internal process for classifying applicants — there is no way to apply or request to be treated as a qualifying applicant. However, for those the SSA does identify as either a CAL or QDD process, the application process can potentially be expedited.

The Compassionate Allowances Program

The CAL program uses only the applicant’s initial form claiming disability benefits. An electronic database looks over a claimant’s electronic application for a predetermined list of qualifying diseases. There are 88 CAL afflictions currently, including cancers and rare diseases. While the medical condition must be severe, not all CAL cases involve a terminal illness. For example, a spinal cord injury would qualify for a compassionate allowance.

CAL conditions are developed through public outreach hearings, public comments and the advice of medical and scientific experts. In March, the SSA conducted a CAL outreach hearing regarding autoimmune disease. Some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, are currently not on the list, but may be included in the future.

The Quick Disability Determination Process

Under the Code of Federal Regulations, if the SSA identifies a claim as having a high likelihood that they will find the individual to be disabled, then the SSA will send the claim to the applicant’s state agency for consideration under the quick disability determination process. The state agency will then:

  • Have a medical or psychological expert verify that the evidence indicates the individual’s physical or mental impairment meets the SSA’s standards
  • Determine disability benefits based only on what is in the applicant’s file

Like the CAL program, a QDD claim is expedited. However, the process for identifying CAL claims is simpler than QDD claims, and there is less of a chance of being removed from a CAL designation.

Questions? Speak to an Attorney.

An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can further address your questions and concerns. An attorney can bring your attention to all of the ins and outs of the application and appeal process, such as QDD and CAL programs.

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Avedis SmithAvedis Smith
20:02 27 Jul 23
When I first got my review denial letter from SSA and had to appeal I was crushed...I contacted several lawyers and no one wanted to take my case. I contacted Ellene Welsh law firm and spoke with Annette and told her about my situation(she spoke with Attorney Welsh) they agreed and took my case. Let me tell you, they are so thorough...they took the time to explain everything to me each step of the way and obtained all medical records, worked endlessly with my SSA hearing officer, and help ease my anxiety. I'm happy to write after a long battle I received a fully favorable decision with no hearing!! If you need a office that will work tirelessly for you then look no further...Thankyou so much to Attorney Welsh and Annette...
Donl AtkinsDonl Atkins
21:47 02 Jan 23
Mrs Welsh and her staff were so helpful. They kept me informed every step of the way and I received a better decision than I expected.Would hire them again if needed.
Reign SupremeReign Supreme
17:19 02 Nov 22
Friendly, professional and attentive. I was made to feel comfortable asking questions.
Kimberly HanbackKimberly Hanback
17:04 05 Oct 22
I had tried to get my disability first with a different lawyer and was turned down. When I called thier office to ask about an appeal they said they couldn't help me and was very rude and hung up on me. Found another lawyer who did my appeal was turned down. I called Ellene Welsh and her and her staff were very nice and helpful. Of course it was during the pandemic so we had to do things differently but she helped me and I won my case. Anytime I had a question they were very helpful and nice. If I could just say if you need a great lawyer with a great staff call her. They will fight for you. Love them.
kyle croftkyle croft
20:29 11 Jul 22
After being denied by SSD , I called the Law offices of Ellen Welsh and she got my disability claim approved. Her employees were professional and easy to work with. They took care of everything. I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone needing help with their SSD CLAIM
Kris ArhartKris Arhart
17:46 02 Feb 22
Ms. Ellene Welsh Came recommended from another attorney. The whole process with her office was as smooth as it can be. If you have never had to use a attorney before let me explain something I learned. Every great attorney has a amazing Paralegal / assistant or more behind them. Ms. Welsh team made contact As easy as I can get. Whether it be by phone or email. Thank Ms. Welsh and your amazing office for all the hard work yall did to make this process as easy as possible.
Pam ScheibPam Scheib
02:49 01 Feb 17
I became a client of Ellene's 3 years ago. When I first met Ellene she took a great deal of time to go over my denied paperwork from Social Security. She explained it was not a quick process and we would be looking at least another year to eighteen months before a hearing. She explained every step! When I had questions Becky and other office staff were always there to walk me through my questions and ease my mind and at times frustrations. Never along this journey did I feel ignored or abandoned. Ellene's staff got all my records together for my hearing and thanks to their hard work we got an immediate decision. It is very rare, I knew it was a good case going in, but Ellene made sure every "I" was dotted and every "T" was crossed. She was excellent in front of the judge and knows what she is doing. It was her 20 plus years experience that makes her so good! I can't thank Ellene and her staff enough for all their time, hard work and dedication in helping me with my case. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney.

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With 35 years of legal experience, Attorney Ellene Welsh specializes in assisting individuals in the Douglasville, Columbus, and West Georgia areas to secure Work Comp, Social Security Disability, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, leveraging her in-depth knowledge of the systems and collaborating with admin officials to secure her clients the financial support they deserve.

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