Our disability attorneys have heard a lot of client complaints over the years. It’s perhaps surprising that the most common complaints about the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program aren’t about the money, or the red tape, or the confusing rules.
They’re about time.
Specifically, they’re about the delays that seem to be built into the SSDI application process. You apply for benefits, and then wait months and months before you get an answer. If your original application is rejected—and most are—then you have only a brief time to submit a response, but it will take many more weeks before you know if your appeal is accepted. And so on and on.
In the meanwhile, the truly disabled applicant has no income (or very limited income). He may not be able to afford food and shelter. Knowing that he will eventually receive all the back benefits he deserves once he qualifies for SSDI doesn’t help with today’s expenses. It’s a situation that is frustrating and frightening in equal turns.
It’s even worse for some of the disabled—the sickest of the sick. These are the people coping with terminal illness who are not expected to live through a 12-month disability period. These applicants literally can not wait for the usual delays in qualifying for SSDI.
The Compassionate Allowances Program for People Facing End-of-Life Illness
The Social Security Administration has an option called Compassionate Allowances, which speeds up delivery of SSDI benefits for people who are disabled due to some serious and terminal illnesses.
Compassionate Allowances is fully integrated into the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. When a Social Security office receives a disability application that involves an ailment on the Compassionate Allowance list, that application is automatically fast-tracked for early consideration. If the medical evidence submitted along with the application supports the medical claim, the applicant can be awarded disability benefits in as little as two weeks.
In fact, Social Security Administration personnel say the main bottleneck for Compassionate Allowance claims is usually getting complete medical reports—including pathology reports after biopsies—from an applicant’s doctors. A Compassionate Allowance claim may also be delayed if a Social Security-approved physician is asked to verify the diagnosis by a physical exam.
Not all serious medical conditions qualify for Compassionate Allowances. The current list of disabilities that receive fast-track consideration includes:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s Disease
- Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
- Types of muscular dystrophy and muscular atrophy
- Many forms of cancer
A complete list of the current Compassionate Allowances list is available from the Social Security Administration.
The False Rumor About Compassionate Allowances
You may hear some people tell you that Compassionate Allowances will affect the money you get from SSDI. That’s completely untrue. The level of your SSDI benefits is determined by your earnings when you were actively working, not by the route you took to get your claim approved. People who receive faster consideration because of their medical conditions don’t get more money—or less money, for that matter—if their applications are approved.
At Schmidt Kramer, our Social Security Disability attorneys welcome inquiries about the SSDI benefits process from people who are about to submit applications and those who need help appealing a rejected application. For a FREE, confidential review of your case, call our Harrisburg office at 717-888-8888 locally in central Pennsylvania or (717) 888-8888 toll-free.