An immense backlog of applications and limited Social Security Administration (SSA) resources create an ongoing struggle and long wait times for disability applicants. However, severe medical conditions, such as many kinds of cancer, dementia disorders and certain muscular atrophy or dystrophy diseases may be eligible for expedited approval.
To combat the long approval process and provide benefits decisions quickly, the SSA established the Compassionate Allowances program for serious qualifying medical conditions for both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income claims. Rather than waiting six months to a year or longer, applicants with one of the 230 conditions listed on the Compassionate Allowance List (CAL) can receive a benefits decision within a few weeks.
When applying, the applicant does not need to apply for a Compassionate Allowance separately in the application. The SSA uses algorithms to automatically place applicants who cite a CAL impairment to the front of the queue.
Conditions that qualify for a Compassionate Allowance are those that are so severe and debilitating that further medical diagnosis is not needed to determine eligibility, provided the applicant has medical records to support their claim. Some of the qualifying conditions must meet certain progression criteria, for example, cancer that has metastasized or an advanced stage of muscular deterioration.
The medical evidence needed to support a claim will differ, depending on the nature of the applicant’s condition. For instance, a person with a cancerous condition would likely need to submit a biopsy report as part of their application.
The fast-track to benefits decisions, but not necessarily payments
Although the Compassionate Allowances program allows the SSA to easily and quickly the most obviously disabled applicants, an approval for benefits may not result in immediate payments. SSDI claims require a five-month waiting period after a disability determination before SSDI benefits begin and a 24-month waiting period after a disability determination before the claimant is eligible for Medicare benefits. SSI applicants can start receiving benefits immediately after approval. Applicants should start the application process right away to obtain needed benefits as soon as possible after any required waiting periods.