The Compassionate Allowance List And What It May Mean To You

8 September 2015
 Categories: Law, Articles


If you have been diagnosed with certain serious or fatal diseases, you may need Social Security Disability to help you pay your bills while you are receiving medical care. But as you probably already know, being approved for disability can often take an extended period of time. Fortunately, Social Security has a list of conditions that qualify for the compassionate allowance program. If your condition is on the list, you may be able to begin receiving a check sooner versus later since a decision is often made in a matter of a couple weeks versus a few months; but there are still some qualifications you must meet.

What Is The Compassionate Allowance Program?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is obligated, as well as committed, to meeting the needs of their applicants who have medical conditions so serious that they would definitely meet their disability standards. The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program allows SSA to quickly identify the diseases and medical conditions that would almost automatically qualify for disability.

Although you are still not eligible to apply for disability until five months following the onset of your condition, CAL allows the agency to flag, target, and fast-track any targeted applications. This is not a separate program but a component of both the Social Security Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income programs.

What Conditions Are On CAL's List?

There are currently approximately 200 conditions that are severe enough to be on the compassionate allowance list. You will quickly notice that many, but not all, of these conditions are some form of cancer. This list is separate and apart from the standard list of impairments used by Social Security to help to determine whether or not you are disabled. In other words, you can have a condition that is considered to be disabling but not qualify for a compassionate allowance. 

How Are Conditions Added To The Compassionate Allowance Program?

This compassionate allowance program is continuously growing due to the fact that Social Security regularly adds new conditions to the list of impairments. When the program first started seven years ago, there were only 50 conditions on the list. 

New conditions are added to the list as Social Security gains new information pertaining to how disabling a certain condition can be. Conditions are selected for the list based on:

  • Suggestions from their own Disability Determination Services
  • Public hearings
  • Public outreach
  • Research with the National Institute of Health (NiH)
  • Recommendations of medical and scientific experts

How Is The CAL Process Any Different?

Social Security understands that those whose health is quickly deteriorating may need benefits as quickly as possible. While you must still complete your application, there are certain sections on the CAL application that have been removed. These include your work history as well as your education. Social Security acknowledges that this information is not necessary in order to determine your disability.

Even with the expedited application, in some cases such as cancer it is not just enough to have the disease. You must still be able to show that your condition meets one of the following:

  • Recurrent - Your health is being compromised by a reoccurring condition.
  • Inoperable - Your doctor has stated that surgery is not recommended and will not benefit you.
  • Unresectable - Your tumor cannot be removed with surgery.
  • Metastasized - Your disease has spread to other places within your body.

How Can You Expedite The Process Even More?

To get the fastest turnaround you can get, there are still a few things you are able to do. 

  • Ensure your application is complete.
  • Request and submit your medical records along with your application. 
  • Make sure you let the Social Security representative who is taking your application know that you have a condition that is on the list.
  • Submit any additional information pertaining to your condition. This may include biopsy or other lab reports. 

You do not have to go through this process alone. Hire a social security attorney from a firm like Horn & Kelley, PC Attorneys at Law to help you. Their knowledge and expertise in this area will help to ensure that nothing is overlooked in during your application process. They want you to receive your benefits just as quickly as you do.