Disability, SSI

Compassionate Allowances Speed Help to People with Severe Disabilities

February 11, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

photograph of a man in a wheelchairDisability can happen to anyone. If you suffer from a serious medical condition that prevents you from working, time is of the essence when it comes to applying for Social Security disability benefits. Although Social Security is committed to processing disability claims as quickly as possible in all cases, our initial claims process typically takes three to five months.

Because compassion is a cornerstone of our public service commitment, 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, 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.

Social Security pays benefits under two programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Our disability program provides benefits and Medicare eligibility to workers with disabilities who paid into the Social Security trust fund through payroll taxes. Under some circumstances, children and family members can receive disability benefits. SSI pays benefits to disabled persons of all ages with limited income and resources. SSI benefits are not paid out of the Social Security trust fund.

Farber’s disease and Tay Sachs disease in children, and advanced pancreatic and ovarian cancer in adults are examples of the 223 conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list. Others include Huntington’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which cause rapid brain deterioration in otherwise healthy adults. For a complete list of the Compassionate Allowances conditions, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

The Compassionate Allowances initiative also provides grants to medical researchers to identify other conditions that may qualify for this list. This initiative is just one of many ways Social Security works to help provide you with peace of mind when disability happens. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.


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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Riley M.

    My wife is now on disability but has to wait for two years for health insurance. Why?

    • Dee

      It seems really stupid to finally approve disability, know you have a sick or physically disabled person and they do not get insurance for 2 years . Why is that are they hoping you won’t make it for 2 years that you well die first .

  2. maria p.

    Suffering from herpes is a Terrible Experience which i suffered till i meet a herbal doctor called Dr JOE BLESSED. I tried all possible mean to get cured but i never received cure from any of the 7 hospital i visited.Just Match,14,2016 i saw a recent post of how Dr Joe blessed herbal medicine cured people and that he is a honest man to work with in the procedures on finding a cure, then i contacted him in trial and he sent me a herbal medicine with the full prescription oh how to drink for two weeks and i exactly followed the guidelines that was given to me by DR JOE to cute the long story short the herbal medicine flushed out my whole system and make the herpes virus inactive all thanks to Dr Joe who God is using to cure people of this terrible virus (herpes simplex virus) for anyone here that has herpes or other kinds of disease and Virus should mail all his or her complain to DR JOE on his email which is (dr.j oeblessed @ gmail . com ) You can call or whatsApp him on +14146229522

  3. Patricia D.

    My daughter age 49 is disabled due to dysautonomia and pots. She has bone growth in her face which causes severe pain and Deformity. A maxillofacial surgeon says she will need extensive surgery and all the bones will have to be broken to correct deformity. How can she get help for medical bills. She has Medicare only.

  4. Rod b.

    I am a 79 year old male and need a handicapped accessible place I would pay the full amount of rent but they say it is hud and I can’t. Is there any disability act that says I can rent it if it it is the only available place in my town

  5. kalina

  6. kalina

  7. Richard E.

    Is there a transportation program available to help us out with doctors appointments, and hospital procedures..
    I don’t drive anymore for safety reasons. I had to sell my vehicle.
    Please can you point me in the right direction.
    Thanks for your help
    Richard E Buisson

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Richard. Thanks for your question. We do not provide transportation. However, you may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. Just a reminder – please be cautious about posting personal information on social media. We hope this helps!

  8. Brenda G.

    Mom needing help I have mental health issues and lost my job 3 plus years ago. Now 49 my disability has worsened. Tried resources located in my city of Worcester Ma. Have a 24 and 20 year old. Graduated high school. One eldest in college. Single mom. I’m afraid for myself I’ve worked since I was in high school since layoff. I’m finding that there is no hope for me and expressed this to many who supposedly work to help others. It’s like there is too many people with deep issues and not enough time money help for someone in my circumstances. I don’t need another referral or someone to look me in the face and say sorry we can’t help you. I am a United States citizen who has worked very hard to be treated as a loser just looking for handouts. Mental illness is very serious. What I’m trying to say is if anyone is listening out there reading this, please be the one who cares.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Brenda. We are sorry to hear about your condition and situation. Social Security pays disability benefits to people if they have a medical condition that has prevented them from working or is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months. We use the same five-step process to make a decision on each application. You may also find our listing of impairments useful. You can file for disability benefits online. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

  9. Dawn M.

    My name is Dawn Marie Bell. I applied for ssa disability benefits on October 22, 2018 when I was diagnosed with;
    1. Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer
    2. Collapsed spine due to bone cancer.
    I have checked the status of my claim & it has not changed from stage or level 2. I pray that you will intervene in this process & expedite it so that I may receive my benefits due to my disabilities.
    Thank you for any help to process my claim. Please feel free to call me at 817
    629.7898 should you need any further information.
    Dawn M. Bell

    My claim is beinging processed at:
    819 Taylor Street, rm 1-A-07,
    Forth Worth, TX 76102

    • Ray F.

      We are sorry to hear of your medical situation, Dawn. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please continue working with your local office. You can request to speak with the manager to see how we can help to expedite resolution of your situation.
      If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Thanks.

  10. George W.

    I am disabled I can do everything except walk! I can not use the left side of my body. I am parapalegic! I am alone I have no parents or sisters and brothers. My father passed when I was 8 years old. I am now 38, didabkec & wanting to start a family. I am going to college for my Bachelors in Business Administration. I was attending a college for Echocardiography( ultrasound of the heart). I want to open up my own business & apply my degrees in Businesses Administration & Echocardiography. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much & I wish you a wonderful day!!

    • Vonda V.

      Hi George. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:
      • You can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment.
      • You can apply from the convenience of your home, or on any computer; and
      • You can avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money.

      If you are unable to file online, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday to make an appointment. For more information visit our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page on disability. Thanks!

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