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New York Disability Attorney Herbert Forsmith Explains “Compassionate Allowances”

In October, 2008, the Social Security Administration announced its latest initiative to cut down on its tremendous backlog of cases by fast-tracking applicants with certain cancers and rare diseases. They call this program “compassionate allowances,” and its stated goal is “getting benefits quickly to people with the most severe medical conditions.”

Once fully implemented, SSA says that this system could affect six to nine percent of Social Security disability claimants. Their cases could be decided as quickly as six to eight days, rather than the normal waiting period of over a year.

The compassionate allowances program started with a list of 50 medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments. Over time, SSA has held public outreach hearings to identify additional conditions to add to the list. These hearings covered rare diseases, cancers, traumatic brain injury and stroke, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease, and multiple organ transplants. The list has now grown to 88 conditions, ranging from acute leukemia to Zellweger syndrome.

The complete list of medical conditions that qualify for a compassionate allowance determination is available online at the Social Security Administration website. You can also see what medical evidence SSA will require to show that you have each condition here.

I have over 30 years experience with the Social Security disability system, first hearing and deciding cases and then as a claimants’ representative. I know the ins and outs of the system and can help you navigate the process of appealing a denial of Social Security disability benefits, using little-known programs like this one to help you get benefits as quickly as possible. To find out how I can help you, please fill out the claim evaluation form at the top of this page.