Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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SSD Compassionate Allowances slowed

The Compassionate Allowance program was implemented by the Social Security Administration to expedite Social Security disability claims for 200 illnesses. However, Newark residents may be disturbed to hear that approval of many of these claims have been delayed by months and even years.

The program was designed to assist claimants with serious and harmful diseases such as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, early-onset Alzheimer's disease and some stages of cancer. Claimants should only have to provide a diagnosis of specified diseases to meet eligibility requirements. Other SSD programs, by comparison, require more medical evidence including information on the progression of a disease.

However, the Office of Inspector General performed a 2016 study that found that the program did not, in many cases, grant benefits in time to assist beneficiaries with these often-fatal consequences. The OIG found that 25 percent of the claimants in the study's sample population died within 90 days of submitting their application.

The average approval time was 47 days, according to the OIG. However, beneficiaries did not receive their first benefit payment until the sixth month following approval. The study also found that 3,000 claimants who were denied benefits were ultimately approved after they appealed or reapplied. Benefits were approved for 76,000 claimants and approximately 6,000 applications were denied.

In addition to delaying benefits until after the death of some beneficiaries, according to one attorney, this also prevents other beneficiaries from receiving the medical treatment to extend their lives. Claimants who are approved for compassionate allowances, however, may also face obstacles.

The SSA may conduct ongoing reviews of beneficiaries receiving SSD and require more documents to assure that they are still disabled. Benefits may be terminated following this review.

In its study, the OIG found that benefits were terminated for 3,000 beneficiaries because of improvement in their medical condition. These amounted to $46.1 million each year.

An experienced attorney can help claimants meet eligibility requirements or appeal a denial. A lawyer may also help beneficiaries when the SSA terminates benefits.

Source: WTLV, "Delays and confusing procedures contradict government 'compassionate' program," Julia Jenae, June 8, 2017

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