Many people who apply for Social Security Disability payments have to wait months, or years, to be approved for benefits. As we discussed in a previous blog post, up to 70 percent of applicants are denied the first time their applications are reviewed. While many of these people eventually are approved, the emotional stress and financial pressure make the bad situation of being newly disabled even worse.
Social Security has realized that a significant number of applicants are being put through the ringer by the existing application process, and they have found a partial solution for some claimants. The program is called “Compassionate Allowances,” and it allows a claimant who has been diagnosed with specific conditions that are seen by Social Security as disabling by definition to receive approval of their applications within weeks.
The list includes certain types of cancer, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, traumatic brain injuries, autoimmune diseases, organ transplants and rare diseases that strike both adults and children. The program was first introduced in 2008, and Social Security has expanded the list of included conditions several times. In late 2012, with the latest additions to the list, Social Security stated that the list now included over 200 diagnoses. The Compassionate Allowances program is also used by SSI to make quick decisions on benefits for children in appropriate cases.
After you receive a positive decision based on a Compassionate Allowance, Social Security can continue to investigate your case, and based on your medical records and other information, it can decide that you were in fact not entitled to an allowance and terminate your benefits. However, in that circumstance, you will not be responsible for repaying Social Security the money that you already received. We believe that the decision to approve benefits based on a compassionate allowance is rarely reversed.
If you believe that you may be entitled to SSD benefits, contact our office. The Compassionate Allowances program does not use a separate application — if you qualify, your case should be evaluated automatically. We can advise you as to whether or not, in our opinion, you have a good chance for a quick decision on your application.