The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance List (CAL) is one avenue Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants use to expedite their claim. Compassionate allowance claims are not common. Instead, the CAL applies to individuals living with extremely severe impairments who would obviously meet SSA’s definition of disability.
What Is Compassionate Allowance?
Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s standards for disability benefits.
The CAL allows individuals with severe conditions which are medically verifiable and result in permanent disability or death to expedite their disability claim. Conditions are added to the list over time as new information about their clinical prognosis surfaces.
SSA’s Compassionate Allowance List is updated by the SSA using feedback from the public, the Social Security and Disability Determination Service communities, counsel from medical and scientific experts, and research with the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Common Medical Conditions on the Compassionate Allowance List
There are over 200 medical conditions listed on SSA’s compassionate allowance list. Some of the most common conditions are listed below.
- Metastatic or Advanced Cancers
The SSA divides cancers into two categories on the CAL: cancers with a low survival rate and cancers that have progressed to an advanced stage and are classified as ‘severe’ with verifiable medical evidence.
Some of the most common cancers with a low survival rate include:
- Acute leukemia
- Adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Esophageal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Glioblastoma multiforme (adult brain tumor)
- Liver Cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
- Small cell cancer of the large intestine, ovary, prostate, or uterus
- Small intestine cancer
Common cancers that don’t have low survival rates in earlier stages but which in later stages can be fatal or severely disabling include late-stage breast cancer with metastases, ovarian cancer with distant metastases and malignant melanoma.
2) Adult Brain Disorders
In addition to late-stage cancers, common CAL conditions include adult brain disorders such as ALS, cerebral palsy and epilepsy with grand mal seizures.
How Does Compassionate Allowance Expedite a Disability Claim?
Claimants applying for SSDI or SSI face lengthy wait times. Many initial applications are denied, requiring a claimant to appeal the denial and eventually present their case in front of an administrative law judge at hearing. This process often takes years.
In contrast, individuals applying for SSDI or SSI who have a medical diagnosis and evidence of a qualifying medical condition on the CAL have their claims expedited at the initial application stage. During the initial review of an applicant’s claim, the Social Security worker starts with the medical disability and consults the list of Compassionate Allowances.
The resulting paperwork and test results must show the applicant meets the criteria for a qualifying disorder. If they do, the applicant will begin to receive payments as soon as possible. Most often, Compassionate Allowance benefits begin within a few weeks to two months.
Of course, timelines vary and depend upon the volume of applications and work flow at your local Social Security Disability office. And the five-month waiting period for health insurance though Medicare or Medicaid applies as it would for any disability claim.
It’s important to point out that even if your condition isn’t severe enough to qualify for Social Security’s CAL, you may still qualify for disability benefits under SSA’s Blue Book Listing criteria.
You’ll just need to submit your claim and follow the normal process of applying for disability benefits.
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