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What is a compassionate allowance?

Some disabling medical conditions are so serious that an applicant doesn’t expect to live long enough to go through the traditional process of filing for Social Security disability benefits. In some cases, these conditions are so severe that there isn’t any question that the disability meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) qualifications. 

In order to address the need of applicants who have those conditions, the SSA began the compassionate allowances program in 2008. This program fast tracks the applications that involve conditions on the list for it. 

How fast are the approvals in the compassionate allowance program?

The time it takes to get an approval under the compassionate allowance program varies, but some people will see an approval within 15 days. This is a considerable improvement over the sometimes years-long application process that some people go through when they file for disability benefits through the SSA.

Conditions on this list vary greatly. Certain forms of cancer, neurologic disorders, heart diseases and immune system conditions are on the list

It’s important to realize that not all applications under the compassionate allowances list are approved. The SSA denies approximately 5% of these applications. The federal agency places those that they do into an expedited appeals process. The SSA approves the remainder of compassionate allowances applications on the initial review so that recipients quickly receive benefits.

Anyone applying for disability benefits should ensure that they have a thorough application as the SSA will deny most of them upon their initial review. Working with an attorney who’s familiar with the SSA’s programs can be beneficial, especially if you have to appeal a denial.