Slepian Smith, PLLC

What is the Compassionate Allowances list?

The Social Security Administration created the Compassionate Allowances program to help expedite the application process for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for those with specific conditions so serious that they have been determined to meet the SSA's requirements.

The SSA approves these applications based on a much smaller amount of objective medical data, such as medical records confirming the condition. The application process can take as little as 10 days; in 2018, the average processing time was 19 days. The goal of the program is to get benefits as soon as possible to disabled people who need them most.

The Compassionate Allowances list includes dozens of conditions. Some require only a diagnosis to automatically qualify for SSDI or SSI, while others require more evidence as to the severity of the condition. In some cases, a condition doesn't qualify for a Compassionate Allowance until it progresses. Included on the list are:

  • Many types of cancer
  • ALS
  • Certain types of muscular dystrophy and muscular atrophy
  • Early-onset Alzheimer's disease
  • Organ transplants

There are many other conditions on the list, which can be viewed here. The SSA determines which conditions should be on the list based on several factors, including public comments, information from medical and scientific experts, and research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). An applicant can also ask the SSA to consider adding a condition to the list; the request can be made on the SSA's website.

In 2018, at least five conditions were added to the list.

Even people who have been diagnosed with a condition on the Compassionate Allowances list must make sure that they follow the correct procedure when applying for benefits, because benefits can still be denied if proper documentation is not submitted. Working with an attorney can help make sure that the application process is completed correctly.

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