The Social Security Administration has expanded a program designed to provide disability benefits to certain applicants through an expedited process. The program is known as Compassionate Allowances. Begun in 2008, the program returns application decision in 10 to 15 days.
Those with rare diseases like cancer, early-onset Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease can be approved quickly through this program, and thus avoid months of waiting that other applicants often have to endure. The Social Security Administration is now expanding the program to include an even greater number of diseases and conditions. Many of these are rare conditions, but what they all have in common is that those who can provide sufficient documentation of their condition are able to easily meet the government's definition of disability.
The purpose of the Compassionate Allowances program is to provide claimants who meet the standard of disability with benefits as quickly as possible, instead of making them wait months for benefits they need right now. The standard for disability, of course, is that the claimant is unable to work because of a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. Those with rare conditions that can establish disability with proper documentation are able to utilize benefits almost immediately, without having to put live in financial limbo while suffering with their condition.
The latest expansion of the Compassionate Allowances program added about 35 different diseases and conditions, bumping up the total number of qualifying conditions to 200.
Source: Businessweek, "Social Security fast-tracks rare-disease claims," Stephen Ohlemacher, December 5, 2012