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. Austin W.

    In March 2019 I was diagnosed with Spinocerebellar Ataxia 3. I struggle
    to work but it is becoming more and more difficult. I need a means to
    Pay my rent, food and living expenses. My frequent falls and mental depression
    continues to be a problem. So timely action in the way of Social Security benefits would be appreciated. My primary physician has forwarded the necessary medical information in my behalf.

  2. Janet L.

    Why was this not used for my son, when he went without SS for most of the time of his illness. Nobody ever told us about it. And now he is gone, and will not be able to to use this extra help. These diseases and disorders should be given to the patients before the end is so near.

  3. Eleanor V.

    My SSI application was deemed “expedited upload”. However, I did not receive SSI benefits until after I was approved through a hearing. Later, I was approved for benefits as of the date of my SSI application; although, I was approved through the hearing beginning a year prior to my SSI application date. But, my benefits (back pay) was only approved as if my SSI application. Given, my SSI application was deemed “expedited upload” would this make allowance for benefits beginning the date the judge determined me disabled?

    • Vonda V.

      Thank you for contacting us, Eleanor. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot assist you.

      To inquire about your benefits, you will need to contact your local office or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

  4. Robert M.

    Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s standards for disability benefits. These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. The CAL initiative helps us reduce waiting time to reach a disability determination for individuals with the most serious disabilities.В  The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant s disease or condition clearly meets Social Security s statutory standard for disability. By incorporating cutting-edge technology, the agency can easily identify potential Compassionate Allowances to quickly make decisions.В  Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the same rules to evaluate CAL conditions when evaluating both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.
    By the way! The best essay writing service – https://www.easyessay.pro/
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  5. Mohammad I.

    I am 73 years old with knee problems: Social security and my pension combined barely cover our rent. I request some supplemental income to cover my living expenses

    • Ann C.

      Thanks for your comments, Mohammad. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that pays benefits to people age 65 and older and disabled adults and children with limited income and resources. The amount of an SSI monthly benefit is based on the income, resources and living arrangements available to the person who receives SSI. Individuals age 65 or older, will need to complete their Supplemental Security Information (SSI) application at their local Social Security office. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. We hope this helps.

  6. Marni W.

    My brother who is 48 has recently been diagnosed with FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA. It has been a roller coaster for 2 years or more. My dad has power of attorney. Does my dad apply for SSI the regular way or is there a better way to apply? My brother is in a dementia facility unable to apply for himself.

    • Ray F.

      We are sorry to hear of your brother’s medical problems, Marni.
      We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
      Your father could help your brother apply for disability benefits. He can also apply to be your brother’s Representative Payee.
      A representative payee is different than having “Power of Attorney”. As a representative payee, it will make it easier for your father in the future to update information for your brother (the beneficiary). When friends or family are not able to serve as payees, Social Security looks for qualified organizations to be representative payees. In this case, the nursing facility may consider applying to be the representative payee. The social worker at the facility may be able to assist with the application for disability benefits as well.
      Please consider talking with the nursing facility manager or administrator about this important issue, they will contact us if they have specific questions or to understand the facility’s responsibilities.
      Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for further assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally you will experience a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. We hope this information helps.

  7. Dale B.

    In 2008 I had AML LEUKEMIA but was not diagnosed until february 2009.Why did my attorney tell me to waive my backpay?I lost around $30,000 and it still haunts me to this day.I was homeless and lived in my car for 8 months,then in the woods in a small camper with no electric or water for 6 months.I am now in HUD low income housing.I get $777.00 a month SSA AND SSI COMBINED and $37.00 food stamps.I am a 63 year old female and can barely get by on my own.I now have Parypheal Vascular Disease in both legs.Is there any way to retreive the packpay that I waived because of bad advice from my lawyer while I had cancer?

  8. Yvette

    I tried to get ask I was fighting my Ssi science 2010 but it doesn’t go threw I applied for chronic back pain. But I’m also skisofrinia bipolar ll and I have major depression but never applied for it I also get isolated in my tent because I’m homeless and I think my uncle is looking for me to do what he did to me when I was from 3yrs old to 9 until my mother took us to Los Angles

  9. kimberly c.

    my mom is 80 with parkinsons she is currently hospitalized for a broken hip but will be returning home soon . if i have to quit my job to care for her . is there any compensation i can receive for being her care provider

    • Kenny O.

      Thank you for your question, Kimberly. We do not pay caregivers. However, you may be eligible for other benefits through your state’s social services office. These services can include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other situations. To get information about services in your area and to find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services office. Or you may visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information. We hope this information helps!

  10. Steve o.

    My husband has Acute Leukemia. He got approved for disability and the letter said they would help him find a job. That is ridicules and we need help with medical and anything else he would qualify for. I am working two jobs and taking care of him. We need some help please.

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