Compassionate Allowances Speed Help to People with Severe Disabilities

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

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 photograph of a man in a wheelchair


236 thoughts on “Compassionate Allowances Speed Help to People with Severe Disabilities

  1. Bull,
    My brother has been in hospitals and nursing homes for over a year. Has lost both legs. He has been waiting for some judge to hear his case.

  2. I have applied for SSDI. I went before an Administrative Judge and was denied my claim because of the Substantial Work Claus. I am still working Part Time I have Diabetes, Hep-C Lesions on my body High Blood Pressure High Cholesterol, Chronic Back, Leg, and Abdominal Pain. I don’t have any Insurance and my pay is 17,200yr. I have claimed all the medications I pay for over the cost of the month which brought my monthly pay to 1120. Plus the Vocational Expert said that my work cannot be transferred and that I was receiving extraordinary assistance from my employers by assigning deacons to assist me in completing my weekly tasks. The Judge said that he believed a church has a lower standard when it comes to helping their employees. I appealed that decision to the Appeals Council. where do you believe I stand on these issues?

  3. I went to court good approved and then I was denied on account of my husband having retirement fund, and a home that we rent because we owe much more than what iuts worth.SS told us to get ppwk and an appraisal done we spend $250.00 for an appraisal .SS made their decision without telling me anything after I spent $250.00 on an appraisal.We live off of credit cards.I worked all these years and I can’t get any help, how do these immigrants come in and get all this help?They go by several last names and apply and get it under one of there other names.Its a real shame.Ihave MS,heart disease,JC virus,high blood pressure,lumbar spinal fusion.How am I suppose to use my husband’s retirement money when in four years he retires how are we my three daughters ages 14,12,10 are suppose to survive?We have liquidated all of my CDS and IRAS.I am so upset and stressed out over this and then mynDr.tells me stress is no good for me.What can you recommend to me

    • I think you may have 2 systems confused (it’s very easy to confuse them):
      SSI may be granted as supplementary income and is based on you & your husband’s financial assets. SSDI (the disability insurance that this article references) is based on your work history/salary and your disability status being approved through “the process”.

      When I initially applied, I knew I would not qualify for SSI, and didn’t plan on applying. However, the person who initially processed my claim explained that lawyers usually want you to apply for both, and also was quick to explain that I was going to be immediately denied on the SSI due to my assets. If not for her explanation and telling me not to panic when I got the determination, I might have been very upset like you.

      You said you went to court and were approved. If that is so, then I am betting the denial is to the SSI, and that the SSDI claim is what was approved. Even though they immediately denied my SSI in the beginning, they insisted on going back through the SSI application process and denied it again, before they processed the SSDI approval.

      Be aware if your income (not your husband’s) was high, and the appeal process has taken years, all of the double-checking and insisting on redoing all the financial stuff will take longer than most as well. If they’ve gotten through the SSI denial, then hang in there, they will now begin the process of figuring out how much back pay they owe you.

      If you can, try checking with your local SS office and asking about the status of your claim, and see if the denial was SSI or SSDI, or both. Remember your local office has little to do with the processing itself, so even though it’s a trying time for you, the more cordial you can be, the more likely they can get it straightened out and explain it to you.

      Just for comparison purposes, it was 4 years after my initial application before my appeal was heard in front of a video conference judge. He granted my SSDI within the week, but it took another 10 weeks before I got my back pay and started getting my disability payments.

      I am very glad there is a compassionate allowance provision, but it can be a very long and difficult process for those of us that are disabled, unable to work, and don’t fit one of those criteria.

      • So I should go back to Social Security and try to get SSDI? My lawyer from Myler Disability said that my work points expired march 2014 and I applied in Dec 2014,If you think I should try again I will do so.

        • Hi Charlotte. By “work points” you must be referring to credits. Credits are the “building blocks” we use to find out whether you have the minimum amount of covered work to qualify for each type of Social Security benefits. When it comes to qualifying for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, you must be “currently insured” or have worked long enough–and recently enough—under Social Security. If you became disabled in December 2014, and your credits for insured status expired in March 2014, you were no longer eligible for disability benefits. See Insured Status Requirements for more information.
          If you have specific questions about your situation, please call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Thanks!

  4. my husband is retiring in april and i helped him apply for medicare. i just want to know can i also help him apply for soc security payments online? he has intellectual disabilities and im a professor so i handle these things

  5. Very interesting blog. I hope that all of you hopefully get some type of assistance with your concerns. The Social Security Administration has to rely on judges to hear these cases. It is well known by many that there are not enough judges to oversee the millions of disability cases. The Disability Lawyers know this all to well. So please be aware even if you seek legal counsel to help with your case, you will have an extended wait time for your case to be heard. In the event of a denial from the Social Security Administration you should seek legal counsel and appeal right away. Do not reapply because you will lose all of your back benefits. I understand that this is a very difficult time in all of your lives, but have the faith that things will get better. The best way to get through this process is to educate yourself on how this system works. Please read and ask as many questions as you may need to in order to gain an understanding. You are not alone, but always remember that someone else is worse off than you. Let’s try to find a way to see what we can do to push them to bring in more judges to hear our cases! In the meantime try not to worry and have a greater appreciation for patience.

    • If you re-apply and it is found you are and were disabled the pror files can be re-opened so back benefits will not be lost and the decision will be earlier.

  6. If you worked for minimum wages all your working days don’t expect $2,400 a month at the age of 62 because it’s not going to happen

  7. I will be 64 in April, I have worked since I was 16 yrs old. I was recently diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Scerosis. I am a nurse practitioner and the demands of my work are keeping me from getting into remission. Do I have a chance of getting disability?

    • Thank you for your question. Disability Benefits are paid to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to result in death. If you are working in 2016 and your earnings average more than $1,130 a month, generally, you may not be considered disabled. In addition to the amount of money you make, Social Security may also look at the number of hours you’re able to work. If you think you are disabled under our rules, you can apply for disability benefits online. Please see our listing of impairments, and visit our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page on disability. At age 64, you could consider applying for Retirement Benefits and also apply for disability benefits before you reach your full retirement age. You can start receiving your retirement benefits while we consider your application for disability benefits and wait for a medical decision. Please call us at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact your local office for further assistance.

  8. I have read the comments on this blog today and I can sure relate with alot of you. Yet there are numerous of you who do not understand the SSI and SSDI programs, their purposes or for whom they are intended. I honestly believe that there are few who work at Social Security who understand the SSI and SSDI programs in great depth. I can understand this since these programs are so large, especially SSDI, and it is not liikely many employees would be able to answer in depth issues without having to do research on the matters.
    Yet, I applied for SSDI and was denied in 2 months. I appealed and then was sent for medical and psychological evaluations. I have to say that these evaluations were way beyond being a joke and totally unprofessionally done by a physician and psychologist provided by Social Security that I would not allow to see or treat my dog, which I love very much.
    I hired an attorney and was told by him that my experience was not a surprise to him, it was normal since most who perform the evaluations for Social Security are those who cannot make it on their own and are labeled by the medical community as undesirables.
    To make a long story short, my case was denied 2 more times and then I finally went in front of law judge. The occupation specialist stated my disabilities were so bad there were no careers to place or educate me in. The law judge stated to me that she was sorry that this case had taken over 4 1/2 years and my family was deprived of so much during that time. She then told me that there was absolutely no reason this case should have ever have been denied from day 1 !!
    I know some will say that some cases just fall thru the cracks. To that I say, some day I hope you have to experience what my family and I had to go through during those 4 1/2 years of losing my wife, home, autos and most of all my dignity as a man who had never failed his family before. Oh yeah, I never received 1 dime of assistance from any government agency.

    • I got denied disability then hired a lawyer filed a appeal it took 6 months to see a judge I have mental disease haven’t worked since 2004 I couldn’t afford to get mental help then in 2008 I got medicad then in 2009 I got a mental health doctor im on 6 different medication I filed for disability in 2011 got denied then I filed for it again 2014 got lawyer seen a judge and he denied then had file with appealing court and it takes 12 to 18 months to hear back and I got diagnose with copd in 2015

  9. I would like to know when future outreach meetings/ hearings for considerations of CAL diseases, disorders, and conditions is going to be scheduled. It has been quite a long time since any public meeting was held. There are diseases that are very rare, extremely painful, debilitating and disfiguring, and are orphan diseases that get completely overlooked because most Dr.’s and therefore obviously Judges and ODAR have never heard of and don’t understand the diseases, the parameters, and the effect on a patients life. Many are not studdied so there is very little accurate research available. I have read about who contributes input in this matter, however, with no recent meetings and none upcoming how can patients and advocates make progress with respect to getting a specific disease brought to your attention for CAL consideration??? Thank you for your response.

  10. I waited almost 4 years I have PtSD ,major depression and anx.y and anger rage issues…I have bulging disc’s.digestive disc problems a fracture of L3 and more from neck to lower back I have sciatica .I have double crush syndrome in hands ,arthritis bad a year in shoulder diabetes atrial fibrillation gurd …I get a job I get sick after 1 month they have business to run they can’t afford me getting sick all the time I have to start a temp job and it’s killing me to do it but 3 years without work I’m homeless well not no.more cause my mom. Helps now I need back surgery and shoulder surgery I was denied Immediately then dec.1st 3 years 8 months later I can see judge she denied me because why I was nervous accidentally said I could walk a mile which I can’t even walk 10 feet ..also I have cops,ASTHMA which I have oxygen at home but I was denied what a slap in the face I really think I was decimated cause I was a fireman at ground 911 and my pain meds …it’s sad now I’m appealing and the lawyer I had said I’m.wasting my time .but if I don’t get approved this time they will see my true rage!!

Leave a Reply - (comment policy)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *