The Social Security Administration’s compassionate allowance program provides expedited benefits to disabled people whose conditions clearly qualify them for SSDI. The program is in response to significant delays in processing claims. Prior to the implementation of the CAL program, many applicants with severe impairments and even terminal illnesses were forced to wait between six to twelve months for a decision. The compassionate allowance program is intended to shorten the amount of time from an individual’s application and the receipt of benefits.
Impairments that Qualify for Compassionate Allowances
To qualify for a compassionate allowance, individuals must have clear evidence of a significantly disabling injury or illness that is currently included in the SSA’s List of Compassionate Allowances. Severe conditions ranging from cancer to loss of limb are included because individuals diagnosed with them have significantly impaired cognitive, physical, or mental faculties.
Individuals should document as thoroughly as possible the extent of their injuries. Documentation submitted with the application should include medical records, accident reports, and other supporting information that establishes the type of injury and the extent to which the injury impacts the individual’s ability to work.
Repayment of Benefits and Retroactive Payments
In many cases, benefits applied for under the compassionate allowance program may be approved and payments commenced within a couple of weeks to a couple of months after the application is received.
Individuals accepted within the compassionate allowance program remain eligible for retroactive payments that go back to the date when the disability occurred. However, even in these instances, the 5-month waiting period required by the agency still applies.
Alternatives to Compassionate Allowance Program
The Quick Disability Determination (QDD) program is an automated tool that screens applications for severely disabling conditions. If the system detects one of these conditions along with supporting medical evidence, the claim is immediately sent to a claims examiner for review. Cases processed in this manner can be approved in as few as three weeks. Social Security lawyers can help prepare an individual’s application and documentation for a QDD, however, it is entirely up to the agency’s computer model as to whether or not the application will be reviewed and processed via the program.