Woman in sling and neck brace talking to a doctor.

Disabled individuals who are unable to work due to their physical or mental condition rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to make ends meet. But unfortunately, it can take a long time to get approved for these benefits. In fact, the application and appeals processes can drag on for months, and in some cases years.

Severely disabled individuals cannot afford to wait months or years for SSDI benefits. To address this issue, the Social Security Administration (SSA) established the Compassionate Allowance Initiative in 2008. What are compassionate allowances? How can a Tampa Social Security disability attorney help if your condition is classified as a compassionate allowance? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

What is the Compassionate Allowance Program?

The compassionate allowance program was established to speed up the approval process for applicants with severe disabilities. If your condition is classified as a compassionate allowance, your application for disability benefits will be flagged so the SSA knows to process it as quickly as possible. Applicants with compassionate allowances may get approved for SSDI benefits in as little as 10 days after filing the initial application.

What Conditions Qualify As Compassionate Allowances?

The SSA has compiled a list of over 200 physical and mental conditions that qualify as compassionate allowances. These conditions, by definition, meet the SSA’s standards for SSDI benefits.

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Many of the conditions on this list are cancers, however, there are a number of other severe disabling conditions as well. Some examples of conditions that are included on this list are:

  • Acute Leukemia
  • Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • ALS
  • Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Malignant Multiple Sclerosis
  • Pancreatic Cancer

For some conditions on this list, a diagnosis on its own is enough to qualify for a compassionate allowance. For example, if you are diagnosed with ALS, you will qualify for a compassionate allowance based on this diagnosis alone.

But for other conditions on this list, a diagnosis is not enough to qualify for a compassionate allowance. You must also meet certain criteria that are specific to the condition.

For instance, if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may or may not qualify for a compassionate allowance. To qualify, you must have locally advanced cancer, recurrent carcinoma, or carcinoma with metastases to the supraclavicular or infraclavicular nodes, to 10 or more axillary nodes, or with distant metastases. If you have breast cancer but it does not meet one of these conditions, you will not qualify for a compassionate allowance.

The SSA adds new conditions to this list of compassionate allowances on a regular basis. To determine if a condition should qualify, the SSA considers feedback from a number of sources, including the public, the Social Security and Disability Determinations Services, medical and scientific experts, and the National Institutes of Health.

How Do You Apply for A Compassionate Allowance?

If your condition is on the compassionate allowance list, you won’t need to complete extra paperwork in order to expedite your SSDI application. In fact, the application process is exactly the same. You will need to submit the same medical documentation and other paperwork that is required of all applicants. When reviewing your application, the SSA will check to see if your condition is listed on the compassionate allowance list. If it is, your application will be expedited.

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However, it’s important to note that you must submit medical documentation to support your claim. The SSA will need to see proof that you have actually been diagnosed with the qualifying condition. Your application will not be approved unless you have submitted adequate proof, which means you will not receive benefits until this documentation has been sent to the SSA.

When Will You Start to Receive SSDI Benefits?

Qualifying for a compassionate allowance will certainly speed up the process of getting approved for SSDI benefits. In fact, the average processing time for a compassionate allowance application is 19 days, which means most applicants find out whether or not they are approved in less than three weeks.

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However, the five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits still applies to applicants who qualify for a compassionate allowance. This means even if you qualify for a compassionate allowance, you will have to wait five months from your disability onset date to start receiving benefits. So if your application is approved quickly, you may not start to receive benefits right away, depending on how much time has passed since you first became disabled.

Are There Other Ways to Speed Up the SSDI Application Process?

There are several other ways to speed up the SSDI application process if you do not qualify for a compassionate allowance. For example, if you have a terminal illness, you may be able to expedite your application through SSA’s terminal illness program.

The Quick Disability Determination program is another option. The SSA uses this program to identify and quickly process claims for obvious physical and mental disabilities.

If you are disabled, it’s best to speak to an experienced attorney about your options. Even if you don’t qualify for any of these programs, an attorney can ensure you submit the appropriate paperwork with your initial application to speed up the approval process.

Discuss Your Case With A Social Security Disability Attorney

Don’t go through the process of applying for SSDI benefits on your own. Turn to the trusted Social Security disability attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett for help as soon as possible. Our team has represented disabled individuals in the greater Tampa Bay area since 1971. With our help, our clients have successfully won over $50 million in Social Security claims.

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We know what it takes to win SSDI benefits for our clients. Let us put our extensive resources and experience to work for you. Call our office now to book a free consultation regarding your case.

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