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What are the SSA's Compassionate Allowances?

Many people in New Jersey rely on Social Security benefits for a number of reasons. Working Americans pay Social Security taxes through payroll deduction which in turn provides benefits the event of retirement, disability and illness. In return, the Social Security Administration is obligated to provide benefits to those individuals with health issues that meet the disability standards set by Social Security Administration.

The Compassionate Allowance initiative run by the Social Security Administration identifies diseases that that are clear cases of impairment based on minimal objective medical information. This allowance allows the Social Security Administration to quickly identify individuals whose symptoms meet the criteria used to establish the allowance. It is important to note that CAL is not separate from other programs, such as Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

The process for identifying the medical conditions involves gathering information from public outreach hearings, information collected from the Social Security and Disability Determination Services communities, consultations with experts in medicine, science and research conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health. Once the information is gathered, CAL checks how closely the disease conforms to the definition of the disability as defined by the Social Security Administration.

At present, the Social Security Administration has seven public outreach hearings, which address rare diseases, cancers, traumatic brain injuries, heart stroke, dementia, heart diseases, multiple organ transplants and autoimmune diseases. Additionally, CAL has ongoing programs and initiatives that continue to identify new medical conditions that should be a part of Social Security's benefits.

While this blog post cannot provide specific legal advice, people, who wish to file for benefits under the CAL initiative, should generally use the same form that is used for SSI or SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration reviews the form and expedites the cases that qualify for CAL. The decision is usually provided to an applicant in a few weeks, considering the urgency of the situation and the severity of the medical condition.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Compassionate Allowances Frequently Asked Questions," Accessed on Nov. 14, 2014

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