Compassionate Allowances Get Expedited Disability Determinations

Certain illnesses, including many cancers, are eligible for expedited processing if they have been designated as compassionate allowances.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides expedited processing for medical conditions that are listed in the "Compassionate Allowances List" (CAL). CAL cases don't involve any special criteria for qualifying for disability benefits. Rather, Compassionate Allowance cases are those involving such severe impairments that the case would always match one of Social Security's disability listings.

How Do I Apply for a Compassionate Allowance?

You don't apply for a Compassionate Allowance specifically. Social Security reviews all disability applications to see which ones qualify as compassionate allowances. Compassionate Allowance cases are selected for fast processing based solely on the allegations of the disability claimant (applicant) or of a parent of a child claimant. If the allegations fit the SSA's predictive model that the claim will be able to be approved with minimal objective information (such as a positive biopsy for esophageal cancer), the case is put on a fast track for a decision. It can help to note on the top of your application "Compassionate Allowance claim" -- unless you're applying online.

Compassionate Allowances (CAL) apply to both SSDI and SSI claims. Because minimal objective information is required--proof of the medical condition is sufficient to assume disability--these cases can be allowed (approved) in much less time.

What Medical Evidence Is Required?

The information that Disability Determination Services (DDS, a state agency that makes disability determinations for the SSA) must have is truly nominal—just enough information to establish the correct diagnosis. However, hospitals or treating doctors may take weeks or months to respond to a DDS request for medical records. Therefore, you can speed up the processing of your claim by submitting basic medical information along with your application or sending it to the examiner yourself.

The type of medical information you need to submit depends on the nature of your condition. Most CAL cases involve cancer. If you have leukemia or another form of cancer, the most important thing is the biopsy report. Along with a hospital discharge summary or letter from your doctor, that would be sufficient evidence to get a disability approval through the CAL program (if your type and stage of cancer is on the list of CAL conditions).

How Quickly Are Compassionate Allowances Decided?

Unlike many claims, Compassionate Allowance cases are decided within a matter of days rather than months. That is the "compassion" component of the Compassionate Allowances program: the SSA gives them priority. In that sense, these cases are similar to Quick Disability Determination (QDD) cases. However, unlike a QDD claim, a medical consultant is needed to medically assess and sign a CAL case before approval or denial. In all other ways, CAL cases are like regular disability cases. For instance, the five-month waiting period for SSDI claims is not waived by having a compassionate allowance. The waiting period is established by federal law and cannot be reversed by SSA's compassionate allowance initiative.

Other Expedited Social Security Processes

The Social Security Administration also has a program for terminal illnesses that provides for quick disability decisions. Learn more about the terminal illness program (TERI).

Quick Disability Determination is an automated method that Social Security uses to identify and process claims for obvious disabilities. Learn more about Quick Disability Determinations.

Another program, the presumptive disability program, doesn't speed up the decision, but does pay benefits while your claim is being decided. This program is available for SSI only. Learn more about the presumptive disability program.

What Conditions Qualify for Compassionate Allowances?

Here is a complete list of CAL impairments:

Acute Leukemia Liver Cancer
Adrenal Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent Lowe Syndrome
Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Lymphomatoid Granulomatosis - Grade III
Adult Onset Huntington Disease Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas – Childhood
Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome Malignant Ectomesenchymoma
Alexander Disease (ALX) - Neonatal and Infantile Malignant Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor
Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome Malignant Germ Cell Tumor
Alobar Holoprosencephaly Malignant Melanoma - with metastases
Alpers Disease Malignant Multiple Sclerosis
Alpha Mannosidosis - Type II and III Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor
Alstrom Syndrome Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL)
Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma Maple Syrup Urine Disease
Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia Marshall-Smith Syndrome
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Mastocytosis - Type IV
Anaplastic Adrenal Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent MECP2 Duplication Syndrome
Angelman Syndrome Medulloblastoma - with metastases
Angiosarcoma Menkes Disease - Classic or Infantile Onset Form
Aortic Atresia Merkel Cell Carcinoma - with metastases
Aplastic Anemia Merosin Deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
Astrocytoma - Grade III and IV Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD) - Late Infantile
Ataxia Telangiectasia Mitral Valve Atresia
Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor Mixed Dementias
Batten Disease MPS I, formerly known as Hurler Syndrome
Beta Thalassemia Major MPS II, formerly known as Hunter Syndrome
Bilateral Optic Atrophy- Infantile MPS III, formerly known as Sanfilippo Syndrome
Bilateral Retinoblastoma Mucosal Malignant Melanoma
Bladder Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable Multicentric Castleman Disease
Breast Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable Multiple System Atrophy
Canavan Disease (CD) Myoclonic Epilepsy with Ragged Red Fibers Syndrome
Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site Neonatal Adrenoleukodystrophy
Caudal Regression Syndrome - Types III and IV Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis
Cerebro Oculo Facio Skeletal (COFS) Syndrome Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation - Types 1 and 2
Cerebrotendinous Xanthomatosis NFU-1 Mitochondrial Disease
Child Neuroblastoma - with distant metastases or recurrent Niemann-Pick Disease (NPD) - Type A
Child Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma - recurrent Niemann-Pick Disease-Type C
Child T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma Nonketotic Hyperglycinemia
Chondrosarcoma - with multimodal therapy Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer - with metastases to the hilar nodes or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction Obliterative Bronchiolitis
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) - Blast Phase Ohtahara Syndrome
Coffin-Lowry Syndrome Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor - Grade III
Congenital Lymphedema Ornithine Transcarbamylase (OTC) Deficiency
Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Orthochromatic Leukodystrophy with Pigmented Glia
Corticobasal Degeneration Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) - Type II
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) – Adult Osteosarcoma, formerly known as Bone Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
Cri du Chat Syndrome Ovarian Cancer – with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable
Degos Disease - Systemic Pancreatic Cancer
DeSanctis Cacchione Syndrome Pallister-Killian Syndrome
Dravet Syndrome Paraneoplastic Pemphigus
Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13)
Edwards Syndrome (Trisomy 18) Pearson Syndrome
Eisenmenger Syndrome Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease-Classic Form
Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease-Connatal Form
Endomyocardial Fibrosis Peripheral Nerve Cancer - metastatic or recurrent
Ependymoblastoma (Child Brain Tumor) Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Erdheim Chester Disease Peritoneal Mucinous Carcinomatosis
Esophageal Cancer Perry Syndrome
Esthesioneuroblastoma Phelan-McDermid Syndrome
Ewing Sarcoma Pleural Mesothelioma
Farber's Disease (FD) – Infantile Pompe Disease – Infantile
Fatal Familial Insomnia Primary Cardiac Amyloidosis
Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma
Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma - metastatic or recurrent Primary Effusion Lymphoma
Friedreichs Ataxia (FRDA) Primary Progressive Aphasia
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), Picks Disease -Type A – Adult Progressive Bulbar Palsy
Fryns Syndrome Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
Fucosidosis - Type 1 Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Fukuyama Congenital Muscular Dystrophy Prostate Cancer - Hormone Refractory Disease – or with visceral metastases
Fulminant Giant Cell Myocarditis Pulmonary Atresia
Galactosialidosis - Early and Late Infantile Types Pulmonary Kaposi Sarcoma
Gallbladder Cancer Retinopathy of Prematurity - Stage V
Gaucher Disease (GD) - Type 2 Rett (RTT) Syndrome
Giant Axonal Neuropathy Revesz Syndrome
Glioblastoma Multiforme (Adult Brain Tumor) Rhabdomyosarcoma
Glioma Grade III and IV Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata
Glutaric Acidemia - Type II Roberts Syndrome
Head and Neck Cancers - with distant metastasis or inoperable or unresectable Salivary Tumors
Heart Transplant Graft Failure Sandhoff Disease
Heart Transplant Wait List - 1A/1B Schindler Disease - Type 1
Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) - Familial Type Seckel Syndrome
Hepatoblastoma Severe Combined Immunodeficiency - Childhood
Hepatopulmonary Syndrome Single Ventricle
Hepatorenal Syndrome Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome
Histiocytosis Syndromes Sinonasal Cancer
Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome Small Cell Cancer (of the Large Intestine, Ovary, Prostate, Thymus, or Uterus)
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome Small Cell Lung Cancer
Hydranencephaly Small Intestine Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
Hypocomplementemic Urticarial Vasculitis Syndrome Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome
Hypophosphatasia Perinatal (Lethal) and Infantile Onset Types Soft Tissue Sarcoma - with distant metastases or recurrent
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) - Types 0 and 1
I Cell Disease Spinal Nerve Root Cancer-metastatic or recurrent
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Spinocerebellar Ataxia
Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma Stiff Person Syndrome
Infantile Free Sialic Acid Storage Disease Stomach Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD) Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis
Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses Tabes Dorsalis
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) Tay Sachs Disease - Infantile Type
Jervell and Lange-Nielsen Syndrome Thanatophoric Dysplasia - Type 1
Joubert Syndrome The ALS/Parkinsonism Dementia Complex
Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa - Lethal Type Thyroid Cancer
Juvenile Onset Huntington Disease Transplant Coronary Artery Vasculopathy
Kidney Cancer - inoperable or unresectable Tricuspid Atresia
Krabbe Disease (KD) – Infantile Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
Kufs Disease - Type A and B Ureter Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent
Large Intestine Cancer - with distant metastasis or inoperable, unresectable or recurrent Usher Syndrome - Type I
Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses Ventricular Assist Device Recipient - Left, Right, or Biventricular
Leigh's Disease Walker Warburg Syndrome
Leiomyosarcoma Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome
Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis Wolman Disease
Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome (LNS) X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease
Lewy Body Dementia X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy
Liposarcoma - metastatic or recurrent Xeroderma Pigmentosum
Lissencephaly Zellweger Syndrome

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