Compassionate Allowance: Your Complete Guide to the Program

The Compassionate Allowance program, founded by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2008, is an expedited processing and financial assistance program designed to reduce the waiting period associated with disability determinations and benefit disbursement for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants with the most severe disabilities and impairments.

Compassionate Allowance works by identifying processing claims that meet the Social Security statutory standard for disability and providing social security disability benefits to eligible claimants while the remainder of their application is processed.

Because Compassionate Allowance enrollment is determined entirely by the Social Security Administration, it is especially important to consult with a qualified Social Security attorney to determine your eligibility and ensure the proper preparation of your application.

What Does the Compassionate Allowances Program Do?

Applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are often met with long processing and waiting periods to determine their eligibility and begin receiving benefits under these programs. For individuals suffering from extremely severe diseases and disabilities, this waiting period can prove extremely costly.

The Compassionate Allowance program was instituted by the SSA, in response to complaints regarding long disability determinations, to expedite determinations, processing and provide benefits for applicants whose eligibility and eventual approval is virtually guaranteed.

Compassionate Allowance benefits are paid out as either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and are subject to the same benefits criteria and limitations.

What Conditions Automatically Qualify for Disability Benefits?

In founding the Compassionate Allowance program, the SSA recognized the importance of expedited disbursement of social security disability benefits for cancer patients and patients of other severe medical conditions.

The list of conditions eligible for Compassionate Allowance benefits, the “Compassionate Allowances List” (CAL), designates over 200 of the most severe inoperable cancers and diseases for expedited processing and benefit distribution.

Applications with medical records and documentation of any of the qualifying 200+ CAL conditions will be automatically flagged by the SSA and processed expeditiously.

CAL conditions include:

  • Acute Leukemia
  • Adrenal Cancer
  • Alstrom Syndrome
  • Atresia
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Child Neuroblastoma
  • Malignant Melanoma
  • Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Heart Transplant Waitlist
  • Gallbladder Cancer
  • Joubert Syndrome
  • Juvenile Onset Huntington Disease
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Lung Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Ohtahara Syndrome
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Progressive Bulbar Palsy
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Wolman Disease
  • Zellweger Syndrome

Common amongst the types of disabilities listed in the CAL are the severity of the conditions, their impact on the central nervous system, their significant and/or terminal impact on life expectancy, potential inoperability, and impact on one’s ability to work.

The SSA continually updates the list of approved Compassionate Allowance List (CAL) conditions, so it is very important to consult with a qualified attorney to determine whether or not you (or a loved one) qualifies for Compassionate Allowance.

How Do I Qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Program?

There is no explicit application process for Compassionate Allowance. In fact, qualification for Compassionate Allowance does not require any additional work or documentation by the applicant (excluding the indication and medical documentation of qualifying conditions that would be included in a regular SSDI or SSI application).

Applications with medical evidence and documentation of any of the qualifying CAL conditions will be automatically flagged by the Social Security Administration, reviewed and processed expeditiously.

As such, prospective Compassionate Allowance applicants are only required to submit an application to the SSA, consistent with regular social security disability qualifications, and claim a disability or disease on the CAL to fast track their application. The rest is taken care of by the SSA.

In contrast to the potentially many month-long processing periods of typical SSDI and SSI claims, Compassionate Allowance claims can process in a matter of days rather than months. However, Compassionate Allowance beneficiaries who have been diagnosed recently will be subject to the SSDI waiting period – five months from the date of disability onset – prior to receiving benefits.

What is the Compassionate Allowance Program Waiting Period?

There is no exact Compassionate Allowance program waiting period. Each Compassionate Allowance disability claim is evaluated on an individual basis and there is no exact timeline for Compassionate Allowance approval.

While all Compassionate Allowance applications are evaluated on an expedited basis, processing time may be impacted by the number of other applications submitted to the SSA, the sufficiency of the medical evidence submitted, and whether or not further medical examination is required.

That being said, you should expect your claim to be processed in a matter of weeks, and benefit disbursement within two months from your original application submission date.

When Could I Expect Social Security Disability Payments?

While there is no specific Compassionate Allowance program waiting period, all SSDI, SSI and Medicare beneficiaries, under Compassionate Allowance, may be subject to program waiting periods.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries are required to wait five months from the onset of their disability to receive benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries are not subject to any waiting period and will receive benefits beginning from the established onset date of their disability. Determining and managing SSI income benefits is dependent upon a wide range of factors that are important to consider prior to submitting an application.

Medicare beneficiaries are required to wait the standard 24-month period from the onset date of their disability to be awarded benefits. There is no expedited processing for Medicare.

Many applicants will begin receiving benefits shortly following their Compassionate Allowance approval. Applicants are also eligible for retroactive benefits for the period of time between the onset of their disability and the approval of their application. All retroactive benefits will subtract benefits for the program’s relative waiting period (if applicable).

Ask a Lawyer About Compassionate Allowance or SSDI

The dedicated and experienced team of attorneys at the law firm of Krasno, Krasno, & Onwudinjo is here to answer any and all Compassionate Allowance or SSDI questions you may have, as well as help you navigate the eligibility, application and appeals processes associated with pursuing social security disability benefits.

To schedule a free evaluation, contact us today via email or call us at (844) 243-4849 or toll-free at 877-794-2396.

We are and will continue to work around the clock for you during the Coronavirus pandemic. Please don’t hesitate to contact us – we are here to help.

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