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What are 'compassionate allowances' under the SSD system?

If you have become so disabled that you cannot work, waiting for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits can be difficult. After all, you’ve been got bills to pay, even when your impairments have forced you out of the workforce.

This is where the compassionate allowances (CAL) program offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) comes in.

In this post, we will provide an introduction to how the CAL procedure can potentially provide expedited access to SSD benefits.

In essence, compassionate allowances allow the SSA to remove some of the bureaucratic application barriers for people whose conditions or diseases invariably meet criteria that quality as disabling given the current definition of disability under federal regulations.

The SSA uses a public process to identify conditions that should be made part of the CAL program. This includes holding public hearings and receiving input from established medical experts, such as those at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The public hearings that the SSA has held on compassionate allowances have included hearings on:
• Cancers
• Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
• Stroke
• Alzheimer’s disease (early-onset), along with related dementias
• Autoimmune diseases

We wrote about Alzheimer’s in our December 13 post last year.

In short, the compassionate allowances program is a way to expedite access to SSD benefits in certain cases. It is for people who are facing some of the most serious conditions and impairments that virtually always meet the definition of disability under SSD law.

By any measure, allowing such access is the compassionate thing to do.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Compassionate Allowances Conditions," Accessed July 8, 2014

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