Compassionate Allowances: Fast-Track Help to Those Who Need It Most

November 6, 2017 • By

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Last Updated: November 6, 2017

two metal snakes We are committed to processing disability claims as quickly as possible in all cases, but our initial claims process typically takes three to four months. If you suffer from a serious medical condition that prevents you from working, time is of the essence when it comes to receiving a decision on your disability application.

In some cases, we’re able to expedite the application process through our Compassionate Allowances program. Social Security uses Compassionate Allowances to identify people whose medical condition is so severe that they obviously meet our disability standards. Under the Social Security Act, we consider you disabled if you can’t work due to a severe medical condition that is expected to last at least one year, or result in death.

Many of the claims in our Compassionate Allowances Program are approved based on medical confirmation of the diagnosis alone; for example, pancreatic cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and acute leukemia. Acting Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill said it best: “Social Security is committed — now and in the future – to continue to identify and fast-track diseases that are certain or near-certain to be approved for disability benefits.”

Today, almost 500,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this fast-track disability process, which has grown to include a total of 228 conditions. Recently, three new Compassionate Allowances conditions were added to the list: CACH — Vanishing White Matter Disease-Infantile and Childhood Onset Forms, Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, and Kleefstra Syndrome.

Our Compassionate Allowances program speeds help to people with severe conditions. If you or someone you know has a severe disabling condition, don’t wait. Go to our Compassionate Allowances website for more information about the program, including a list of all the conditions.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. James M.

    My wife has diabetes and most recently has had a detached retina in her right (dominant) eye. Her sight will be impaired for a long time, particularly here depth perception.
    She is 64 and we wonder if she would be eligible for Compassionate Allowance / Disability adjustment to her monthly benefit?

    • AKA

      The condition described is not on the compassionate list. Have her apply for disability and she might be approved. Do not post personal information in an open blog, identities can be stolen.

    • Ray F.

      Hi James, we do not base an individual’s benefit amount on the severity of their disability. We base it on their average lifetime earnings before they became disabled under our rules. Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s standards for disability benefits. In those cases, we’re able to expedite the application process through our Compassionate Allowances program. Social Security uses Compassionate Allowances to identify people whose medical condition is so severe that they obviously meet our disability standards. Thanks!

  2. Michelle L.

    I became disabled in 2004 when I was 18 I became a disabled child under a disabled parent because of my dad as well is disabled when my mom died in 2010 they switched me souviours benefits. But here recently my condition has worsen and now I am just not making it can I refile for my disability and my SSI and if it doesn’t go thru will that affect my souviours benefits if I’m not approved for my disability because I was disabled before age 22 I have my paperwork from y’all on my original claim that states when. Became disabled

    • AKA

      Yes, no, sounds good to me.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Michelle. Generally, survivor’s benefits are paid at a higher rate. Sometimes, a person may be eligible to more than one benefit at the same time. For example, you may be eligible for “disabled adult child” on your dad’s record and also qualify for survivor’s benefits on your mother’s record. Under current law, a person’s benefit amount can never exceed the highest single benefit amount to which that person is entitled. While is possible for a person to be eligible to more than one benefit at the same time, we are only going to pay the highest benefit amount from either records. To see if you’re eligible for a higher benefit than what you’re receiving now and to discuss your options, contact us at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit your local Social security office. Thanks.

      • May

        Be ready to wait for hours to speak to someone. Just like you wait for years to get approved for benefits even after working and paying FICA for 30+ years. Your system is broken Ray and it’s so corrupt that SS makes people wait for over 3 years to get what they had deducted from their paychecks every week.

  3. John A.

    Great article and general information… Thank you!

    • Ray F.

      Thank you, John! We’re pleased we can help.

  4. John A.

    My friend Cheryl Buterbaugh has applied a year ago. She is due disability ssi and or widows benefits as of a year ago. Attorney seems to be dragging his feet

  5. Nabil A.

    We are family of seven depends.
    Two of my children going to college
    Three children in high school.
    I receive a retirement benefits seven hundred twenty three dollars a month.
    It’s not enough to pay the rent.

  6. R.T W.

    I”m thinking that once DJT finds out that something along the lines of charitable giving exist within SSA, that he”‘ll associate it with Barry O and immensely squash it.

    • Marc

      Don’t worry about Yrump…Congress is already doing it whilst we’re distracted by the Twitter rants…It’s all included in that “big, beautiful ‘tax cut'” – what did people think was going to be CUT to pay for them?? Cutting SSDI by 20% for those few already on it whom they deem “disabled enough” not to work, and & REQUIRING everyone else receiving it to work; eliminating Medicare via the block grant idea…yes, the states will each receive a fixed amount (set by Congress annually) to provide as a tax credit to each Medicare recipient on the purchase of a policy on the “open market” – we all should know how well that’ll work, eh? That’s not even 1 of dozens of cuts to programs meant for elderly & disabled that will literally kill most of us relatively quickly. Better pray, hope, wish, or whatever you believe in that this tax plan is NOT passed. Better yet, call & write your Congresspersons in House and Senate & tell them NO NO NO!!! Think I’m just being political? Read the actual Bill for yourself (NOT what newscasters or politicians say) at Congress.gov. You’ll be horrified.

      • AKA

        Boy, the libs sure can make up things. None of what you mentioned is being seriously considered. So, please write your Congressmen, he’s in for a good laugh and he’s looking for more fools to donate to his campaign.

  7. John S.

    Going on Seven years of waiting to be approved. Why? Do I have to lose everything before I get conciderd?

    • AKA

      No, but your condition has to be severe. Give it 7 more years and I’m sure if not treated you’ll be approved.

  8. cari

    I am Canadian..

    Does this apply to me?

    If not please tell me,.

    Can I please be an American?

    Canadian system has utterly failed me this far from justice to child protection , labor laws, supports, access to healthcare both medication and treatments, transportation, criminal defence, immigration, licensing insurances and registration, mortgage fraud, division of marital property, estate planning, victim services , addictions and mental health, income tax services, provincial & federal benefits, access to personal information protection, enforcement of court orders, and human and civil rights.

    Embarrassing !

    I have a great voice… Sadly I don’t think I’m being heard here.

    • AKA

      No, you’re not, you’re a Canadian.

  9. Kenny S.

    Not easy to get Job I get social security have right to abuse my that not cool make for other that’s true pay bills and rent to put food on tab

  10. Lesly F.

    Well i am diabetic is not serious in off to get disability or let me know…! What symptoms it more serious then be suffering with depression and diabetes…!

    • Jeff

      Your question:

      “What symptoms it more serious then be suffering with depression and diabetes…!”

      I think what you meant to say is

      “What symptoms *are more serious *than *to be suffering with depression and diabetes?”

      If that actually is your question, well then here is your answer.

      Acute Leukemia

      Adrenal Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent

      Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

      Adult Onset Huntington Disease

      Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome

      Alexander Disease (ALX) – Neonatal and Infantile

      Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome

      Alobar Holoprosencephaly

      Alpers Disease

      Alpha Mannosidosis – Type II and III

      ALS/Parkinsonism Dementia Complex

      Alstrom Syndrome

      Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma

      Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia

      Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

      Anaplastic Adrenal Cancer – Adult with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent

      Angelman Syndrome


      Aortic Atresia

      Aplastic Anemia

      Astrocytoma – Grade III and IV

      Ataxia Telangiectasia

      Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor

      Batten Disease

      Beta Thalassemia Major

      Bilateral Optic Atrophy- Infantile

      Bilateral Retinoblastoma

      Bladder Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable

      Breast Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable

      Canavan Disease (CD)

      CACH–Vanishing White Matter Disease-Infantile and Childhood Onset Forms (Effective 9/16/2017)

      Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site

      Cardiac Amyloidosis- AL Type

      Caudal Regression Syndrome – Types III and IV

      Cerebro Oculo Facio Skeletal (COFS) Syndrome

      Cerebrotendinous Xanthomatosis

      Child Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

      Child Lymphoma

      Child Neuroblastoma – with distant metastases or recurrent

      Chondrosarcoma – with multimodal therapy

      Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction

      Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) – Blast Phase

      Coffin-Lowry Syndrome

      Congenital Lymphedema

      Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy (Effective 9/16/2017)

      Cornelia de Lange Syndrome – Classic Form

      Corticobasal Degeneration

      Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – Adult

      Cri du Chat Syndrome

      Degos Disease – Systemic

      DeSanctis Cacchione Syndrome

      Dravet Syndrome

      Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

      Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18)

      Eisenmenger Syndrome

      Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma

      Endomyocardial Fibrosis

      Ependymoblastoma (Child Brain Cancer)

      Erdheim Chester Disease

      Esophageal Cancer


      Ewing Sarcoma

      Farber Disease (FD) – Infantile

      Fatal Familial Insomnia

      Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva

      Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma – metastatic or recurrent

      Friedreichs Ataxia (FRDA)

      Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), Picks Disease -Type A – Adult

      Fryns Syndrome

      Fucosidosis – Type 1

      Fukuyama Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

      Fulminant Giant Cell Myocarditis

      Galactosialidosis – Early and Late Infantile Types

      Gallbladder Cancer

      Gaucher Disease (GD) – Type 2

      Giant Axonal Neuropathy

      Glioblastoma Multiforme (Brain Cancer)

      Glioma Grade III and IV

      Glutaric Acidemia – Type II

      Head and Neck Cancers – with distant metastasis or inoperable or unresectable

      Heart Transplant Graft Failure

      Heart Transplant Wait List – 1A/1B

      Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) – Familial Type


      Hepatopulmonary Syndrome

      Hepatorenal Syndrome

      Histiocytosis Syndromes

      Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome

      Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome


      Hypocomplementemic Urticarial Vasculitis Syndrome

      Hypophosphatasia Perinatal (Lethal) and Infantile Onset Types

      Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

      I Cell Disease

      Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
      Infantile Free Sialic Acid Storage Disease

      Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD)

      Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses

      Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

      Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma

      Jervell and Lange-Nielsen Syndrome

      Joubert Syndrome

      Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa – Lethal Type

      Juvenile Onset Huntington Disease

      Kidney Cancer – inoperable or unresectable

      Kleefstra Syndrome (Effective 9/16/2017)

      Krabbe Disease (KD) – Infantile

      Kufs Disease – Type A and B

      Large Intestine Cancer – with distant metastasis or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent>

      Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses

      Leigh’s Disease


      Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis

      Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome (LNS)

      Lewy Body Dementia

      Liposarcoma – metastatic or recurrent


      Liver Cancer

      Lowe Syndrome

      Lymphomatoid Granulomatosis – Grade III

      Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas – Childhood

      Malignant Ectomesenchymoma

      Malignant Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

      Malignant Germ Cell Tumor

      Malignant Multiple Sclerosis

      Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor

      Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL)

      Maple Syrup Urine Disease

      Marshall-Smith Syndrome

      Mastocytosis – Type IV

      MECP2 Duplication Syndrome

      Medulloblastoma – with metastases

      Menkes Disease – Classic or Infantile Onset Form

      Merkel Cell Carcinoma – with metastases

      Merosin Deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

      Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD) – Late Infantile

      Mitral Valve Atresia

      Mixed Dementias

      MPS I, formerly known as Hurler Syndrome

      MPS II, formerly known as Hunter Syndrome

      MPS III, formerly known as Sanfilippo Syndrome

      Mucosal Malignant Melanoma

      Multicentric Castleman Disease

      Multiple System Atrophy

      Myoclonic Epilepsy with Ragged Red Fibers Syndrome

      Neonatal Adrenoleukodystrophy

      Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis

      Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation – Types 1 and 2

      NFU-1 Mitochondrial Disease

      Niemann-Pick Disease (NPD) – Type A

      Niemann-Pick Disease-Type C

      Nonketotic Hyperglycinemia

      Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

      Obliterative Bronchiolitis

      Ohtahara Syndrome

      Oligodendroglioma Brain Cancer- Grade III

      Ornithine Transcarbamylase (OTC) Deficiency

      Orthochromatic Leukodystrophy with Pigmented Glia

      Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) – Type II

      Osteosarcoma, formerly known as Bone Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable

      Ovarian Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable

      Pallister-Killian Syndrome

      Pancreatic Cancer

      Paraneoplastic Pemphigus

      Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13)

      Pearson Syndrome

      Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease-Classic Form

      Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease-Connatal Form

      Peripheral Nerve Cancer – metastatic or recurrent

      Peritoneal Mesothelioma

      Peritoneal Mucinous Carcinomatosis

      Perry Syndrome

      Phelan-McDermid Syndrome

      Pleural Mesothelioma

      Pompe Disease – Infantile

      Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma

      Primary Effusion Lymphoma

      Primary Progressive Aphasia

      Progressive Bulbar Palsy

      Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy

      Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

      Prostate Cancer – Hormone Refractory Disease – or with visceral metastases

      Pulmonary Atresia

      Pulmonary Kaposi Sarcoma

      Retinopathy of Prematurity – Stage V

      Rett (RTT) Syndrome

      Revesz Syndrome


      Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata

      Roberts Syndrome

      Salivary Cancers

      Sandhoff Disease

      Schindler Disease – Type 1

      Seckel Syndrome

      Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – Childhood

      Single Ventricle
      Sinonasal Cancer

      Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome

      Skin Malignant Melanoma with Metastases

      Small Cell Cancer (Large Intestine, Prostate or Thymus)

      Small Cell Cancer of the Female Genital Tract

      Small Cell Lung Cancer

      Small Intestine Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent

      Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome

      Soft Tissue Sarcoma – with distant metastases or recurrent

      Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – Types 0 and 1

      Spinal Nerve Root Cancer-metastatic or recurrent

      Spinocerebellar Ataxia

      Stiff Person Syndrome

      Stomach Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent

      Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis

      Tabes Dorsalis

      Tay Sachs Disease – Infantile Type

      Thanatophoric Dysplasia – Type 1

      Thyroid Cancer

      Transplant Coronary Artery Vasculopathy

      Tricuspid Atresia

      Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

      Ureter Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent

      Usher Syndrome – Type I

      Ventricular Assist Device Recipient – Left, Right, or Biventricular

      Walker Warburg Syndrome

      Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome

      Wolman Disease

      X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease

      X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy

      Xeroderma Pigmentosum

      Zellweger Syndrome

      These diseases and conditions are on the Social Security’s compassionate allowance list. There is a direct link listed in the article as well.

      Since you obviously missed it, here is the direct link again, to ALL of Social Security’s compassionate allowance conditions.


      I have Type 2 diabetes and depression and MUCH more ailments and I still work.

      I hope this has helped answer your question.

      • Ernest s.

        My husband has shy- draper sydrome,he was dignosed by dr. James Hurley Red River Army Drs.put him out on60/% disablity in 1997 He has not work since,now they want to cut his social secuity check from 5506.to355. Amo. He needs the506.00 to buy his 3 inhalers he is on from being a welder for the tanks that went to irack also he has to buy 19 prciptions a mo we have insurance but have to pay the Co pay,we are hurting like many Americans are,this disease he has is uncut able they don’t have nothing to stop it.along with it he has Parkinson, altimers,high blood pressure & copd.we ask for help,I don’t have a computer& I have tried &tried to reach social security. I am his wife,he cannot read or write.Gail Sorrell 11Ashlee blvd. Nash,texas 755 69 ph#9037016913

        • Ray F.

          We are sorry to hear about your husband’s medical condition. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons we do not have access to personal records in this blog.
          If your husband needs help managing his Social Security benefits, you may be interested in applying to become your husband’s representative payee. As a representative payee, you will be able to talk with us and have access to your husband’s records and update his account information.
          To become your husband’s representative payee, you will need to visit your local Social Security office for a face-to-face interview. A statement from his doctor would be helpful. The statement should say that your husband is not able to -mentally and physically- manage his Social Security benefits and identify you as the person responsible to keep his affairs in order.
          Please read our publication: A Guide For Representative Payees for more information. If you have specific questions, or to make an appointment, please call 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks.

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