Social Security Administration Expands Fast-Track Disability List

The Social Security Administration recently added 35 medical conditions to its list of Compassionate Allowances, bringing the total to 200. The Compassionate Allowances initiative provides fast-track processing of disability claims for people with certain serious medical conditions, often allowing applicants to receive an eligibility determination within days or weeks. Other applicants routinely wait months or even years to receive a decision about their eligibility for benefits.

The recent additions to the Compassionate Allowances list mark the second such expansion in recent months; the SSA added 52 new conditions in August 2012. Many of the newly eligible conditions are related to cancers and rare diseases.

The SSA uses Compassionate Allowances to quickly identify applicants with the most serious disabilities and provide them with expedited access to benefits. The medical conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list are considered so severe that anyone diagnosed with them is automatically considered disabled by the SSA. This streamlines the application process and eliminates many of the steps otherwise required to determine whether a person is disabled and eligible for benefits. The SSA reports that nearly 200,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved for benefits through the expedited process since 2008.

Qualifying for benefits with other disabilities

Applicants whose disabilities are not on the Compassionate Allowances list must prove that they are disabled before they can qualify for disability benefits. To be considered disabled by the SSA, both of the following conditions must be met:

  • The applicant is unable to work because of a medical condition
  • The medical condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or is expected to result in death

To prove that these conditions are met, a person who applies for disability benefits must submit documentation of his or her illness and inability to work, and may be required to undergo a physical examination. The application process can be very time-consuming, and many people have their applications denied as a result of improper documentation, errors, or other issues.

Fortunately, people whose applications are initially denied are frequently granted disability benefits on appeal. However, it is important to take action quickly to preserve the right to appeal after being denied benefits. If an appeal is not filed within 60 days of the denial decision, an applicant must start over and apply again from the beginning. This step can add months or years to the already lengthy application process.

Help for people seeking benefits

If you or a loved one is unable to work because of a disabling medical condition, contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer in your area. A lawyer with in-depth knowledge of the disability benefits system can discuss your case with you and assist you with every step of the eligibility determination process.