Compassionate Allowances: Expediting Your Disability Claim

Do you believe you h2008.11.25 - The physicianave a severe illness that should automatically qualify you for disability benefits? You may be right. The Social Security Administration has a process called Compassionate Allowances (CAL) that expedites the social security claims process.

What are Compassionate Allowances?

Compassionate Allowances help identify people who have a disability that would obviously qualify under the Social Security Administration’s impairment listing. It is not a separate program from SSDI or SSI, but instead helps qualified people receive their benefits more quickly.

As part of the Social Security Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income programs, the benefits would be the same as if you applied in the traditional way. The difference is how fast you can receive your benefits. CAL recognizes that some conditions are serious enough to undoubtedly qualify for disability benefits. In 2011, there were a total of 88 conditions that qualified for Compassionate Allowances. You must be diagnosed with the condition and provide objective medical information to qualify.

How are CAL conditions chosen?

The CAL condition list is not comprehensive because that list would make the process just as time consuming as normal Social Security claims. There are several important factors that go into deciding what diseases qualify, including public outreach hearings.  The Social Security Administration and the medical community discussed a variety of subjects during seven hearings. The topics were traumatic brain injuries, rare diseases, cancers, stroke, Alzheimer’s, organ transplants, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disease.

Information from these public events was combined with comments from Social Security advocates, Disability Determination Services representatives, and medical and scientific experts. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was also used to help determine which conditions are most likely to meet the list’s qualifications. The Social Security Administration works closely with disease groups and NIH researchers to keep this list updated with new qualifying conditions.

More conditions that qualify for CAL benefits will be added to the list this year, and every year following. Just like the disabilities that every other applicant applies under, CAL conditions must fall under the Social Security Administrations definition of a disability just like normal benefits.

To be considered disabled, you must not be able to:

  • Do the work you once did
  • Do another job somewhere else in the national economy
  • Recover from your disability in less than a year or be expected to survive it

How do I know if I qualify?

First, check to see if you have a condition that is on the CAL condition list. If you do, the Social Security administration can more quickly grant you these benefits based on a relatively small amount of medical information. Compassionate Allowances can help you get the benefits you need in a matter of weeks, instead of waiting months—or even years.  Though there are many conditions that allow access to these expedited benefits, the list includes the following:

  • Adult Onset Huntington’s Disease
  • Certain Cancers
  • Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
  • 1/A and 1/B Heart Transplant Wait List Patients

For a comprehensive list of the conditions that qualify for CAL or for more in-depth answers to your questions, please visit the Compassionate Allowance Social Security Webpage.  Recently added conditions are listed in red.

How do I apply for Social Security Disability?

There is no separate application for individuals who are claiming a CAL condition. The application process is the same, but if you have a condition that falls under the CAL criteria and give proper medical evidence, the Administration will expedite your application.

There is less paperwork for individuals with CAL conditions. The SSA has eliminated the work and education history questions from the application. It is also important to realize that if you apply under a CAL condition, that doesn’t mean you will receive more money than normal. You will still receive the same amount that other applicants are eligible for, CAL just speeds up the process.

How long until I know if I will receive benefits?

Individuals diagnosed with CAL conditions will receive their claims decision in a matter of weeks instead of months or even years.

Here is what you have to do to make sure this process is expedited:

  • Make sure your doctor’s office sends over the official reports of your diagnoses ASAP
  • Know if a medical examination is necessary for evidence
  • Be aware that your claim may be randomly selected for quality assurance review, which might lengthen the process slightly

You can get an idea of the timing of your claim by visiting the SSA disability planner. If you would like to contact the Compassionate Allowances Team, email them at

Summit Disability Law Group Can Help

You deserve to get the help you need as fast as possible, and that is our first priority. We want to help you through the difficult times that come with dealing with a disability. You shouldn’t have to worry or wait, so let us help you find answers to your questions. We can assist in filing the necessary paperwork and presenting your claim to the SSA so they see you as a person in need, not just a number on a page. Request a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys by filling out the request here or call us at 801.890.1030.

Photo Credit: Adrian Clark via Creative Commons