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. Freda D.

    also now he is on Hospise our good old days are more like our poor days

  2. Freda D.

    my husband is 56 years old has stage 4 Lung cancer was approved for SS but was then told there is a 5 month waiting period with no back pay before he could even get his first check. also no insurance for 2 years. what are we suppose to live on. He has worked hard all his life just to be told your approved but we cant help you for 5 months that is just plain wrong

  3. Pete C.

    Im still waiting going on 9 months for disability payments and i have end stage kidney failure, im blind and have cardiac failure so im guessing that wasn’t enough to FasTrack my application because Im broke and can barely afford to pay people to drive me to Dialysis.

  4. Valarie W.

    Can you help us? My husband applied for disability on 11/6/17 on a Fast Track per the case worker as he has multiple myeloma. I cannot get a case worker to call us back with the status of his claim. He is not able to work and has had multiple surgeries and in and out of the hospital the last 3 months. Please advise.

    • Ray F.

      Hello Valerie, If your husband applied for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, he can log in or create a my Social Security account to check the status of his application online.
      If he is unable to check his application status online, he can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  5. Lienn

    ___123___Compassionate Allowances: Fast-Track Help to Those Who Need It Most | Social Security Matterss___123___

  6. Yugank K.

  7. Liz

    I am 81 years and have been working and receiving social security benefits. February, 2017, I became seriously ill and have been on Disability since. This November 2017, my Company laid me off. My question is can I receive DI benefits. I am unable to continue working and doing the job I use to do. I am not able to collection Unemployment until I am off Disability, and I do not know if and when that will be. Is there a cutoff date to apply for Unemployment? Disability office said to contact Social Security to see if I qualify for DI. Do I?

    • Ray F.

      Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries attain their full retirement age. At age 81, you have already reached your full retirement age, therefore, you are no longer eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
      Also, under the direction of the United States Department of Labor, unemployment benefits are administered by each state. We hope this information helps!

  8. Jill D.

    I was denied Disability in 2013 not because I did not grid out but after I was told I could remove the attorneys without it affecting the Judges decision, the Judge sent it back to be retyped because he “did not like the wording”. New attorney filed appeal submitting medical evidence proving I meet the listing for C.O.P.D. which the orig. attorneys did not submit. After waiting over a yr. I complained to then Sen. Sessions who requested a thorough investigation on my behalf. Appeals council attorney then closed the appeal, which was critical new med. evidence without cause. Now it is 2017 and Judge claims I only qualify for SSI effective Aug. 24, 2017 and Montgomery AL rep claims SSA website is wrong they do not issue emergency adv. payment for being homeless, needing medical treatment and medication. Why are Social Security representatives allowed to Discriminate in retaliation for complaints and still have salaries, and benefits while American Citizen who worked 38 yrs. is being denied what they worked for and qualify for? I have supporting documentation proving discrimination including new Judge ordering new Pulmonary Function test 120 days after hearing and not presenting it before rendering his decision and as of the end of Nov. Montgomery office claimed it still had not been filmed denying me my right to a copy. This needs to be stopped and I not only want my full backpay of $1570/mo from May, 2011 till present but punitive damages for these illegal actions by SSA personnel.

    • James

      Compassionate Allowances?? I became disabled in 2013 after spinal surgery left me unable to work. I applied for SSDI was denied, appealed and was sent to see SS approved doctors. They determined I was unable to work, yet my appeal was denied. Appealed again and waited for over 2 years for a hearing. After hearing I waited almost 3 more months for a decision. Received a fully favorable decision in August 2017, telling me to contact SSA after 60 more days if I had not heard form SSA. Well I have not heard form SSA. I have been calling and sending emails and no one has replied to any of my emails, and when I do get a call through I am told it is being processed. I know you require someones’ disability to last for more than a year or end in death. I feel the attitude and policy of SSA is to just drag it out in hopes we all die so no SSDI benefits ever need to be paid. Seriously how long does it take for payments to be processed once disability has been approved?? I read in the Washington Post a while back over 18000 people have died in the last 2 years waiting to either be approved or start receiving benefit payments. I DO NOT WANT TO BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE. Hoping and praying you all can actually do your jobs and process a persons payments.

  9. azure

    Does someone found disabled because he/she suffers from a condition/disorder on the Compassionate Allowance list still have to receive SSDI cash benefits before becoming entitled to Medicare coverage? If so, how is someone that ill supposed to obtain medical treatment or pallative care?

    • azure

      Sorry, that’s receive SSDI cash benefits for 24 months before becoming eligible for Medicare?

      • Ray F.

        Yes, Azure, individuals can become eligible for Medicare benefits after they receive disability benefits for 24 months. We start counting the 24 months from the month they were entitled to receive disability, not the month when you received your first check. You may want to check and see if you are eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include Medicaid, which may help pay for medication that Medicare does not cover. You can get information about services in your area from your local social services office. Or you can visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information. We hope this information helps.

  10. Bryan m.

    Congressional Jimmy gomez Xavier Becerra kamala Harris wwe investment stakeholders 2327 Ridgeview Ave home care center in Los Angeles ca.gov 90041 http://www.sba.gov http://www.dor.ca.gov sign Bryanmiranda1028@gmail.com

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