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Compassionate Allowances Program Provides Faster SSDI Benefit Decisions

  • Synopsis: Published: 2014-03-13 (Revised/Updated 2015-04-19) - The Social Security Compassionate Allowances Program can make the process of seeking Social Security Disability benefits easier and faster - Smolich & Smolich (

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Quote: "The CAP encompasses 225 different conditions, including many types of cancer, heart disease, dementia-related illnesses and degenerative diseases."

An oft-overlooked option for applicants seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits could make the process both less tedious and quicker. The Compassionate Allowances Program (CAP) essentially fast-tracks disability benefits applications for people whose medical conditions are so severe they objectively meet the Social Security Administration (SSA)'s definition of "disability" without the need for extensive medical record evidence. With the addition of 25 new conditions in January of 2014, the program now covers nearly 230 different medical conditions.

How does the program work

Applicants seeking SSDI or SSI benefits for conditions covered under the CAP send in their applications normally, but from there, the process changes. Once applications for benefits based on CAP-eligible conditions have been received by the SSA, they are treated differently. CAP applications are sorted upon receipt and are reviewed sooner than other applications. Given the grave nature of many CAP conditions, these applications are reviewed faster than those for less-serious disabilities; CAP applications are usually considered within a matter of weeks instead of the months (or even years) that a traditional applicant can be expected to wait.

While there are still strict application criteria even for CAP disability applications, those seeking benefits for a CAP-covered condition usually don't need to provide as much education, employment and medical documentation. This is because the SSA recognizes the difficulty of compiling such information, and, instead of spending precious time worried about administrative issues like this and worrying about their lack of income, applicants could be actively seeking treatment or spending time with loved ones.

What kinds of conditions are covered

The CAP encompasses 225 different conditions, including many types of cancer, heart disease, dementia-related illnesses and degenerative diseases. Examples include:

  • Adult Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Acute Leukemia
  • Huntington's disease
  • Inoperable or un-treatable breast, ovarian, lung, intestinal, kidney, pancreatic and brain cancers
  • Some forms of muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis
  • Early-onset Alzheimer's disease

See the full list of conditions

The Social Security Administration has held seven public hearings to gather feedback about the types of conditions that should be included, and regularly adds new ones as medical evidence and expert testimony dictate.

Seeking the benefits you need

Although CAP applications are heard sooner, that does not mean that the application process itself is easy, or that an applicant's claim won't be denied. Even after accounting for the lesser amount of paperwork and evidence required, it can still be challenging to exactingly fill out the application and gather appropriate supporting documentation while dealing with a severe illness or disability. In addition, the SSA regularly denies more than half of first-time disability applications.

There is help available, though. An experienced social security disability attorney can help you navigate the red tape involved and submit a thorough application with a statistically greater chance of approval. An SSDI attorney can also represent you through the appeals process if your claim is denied, so speak to one in your area today.

Related Information:

  1. William C. Babut, P.C. (Jan 11, 2012). Determining Disability for Social Security - Vocational Experts Role
  2. Kenneth Hiller (Apr 23, 2013). Expedited Disability Benefit Hearings - Are You Eligible
  3. The Law Offices of Coats & Todd (Aug 12, 2013). Expediting Disability Payments for Terminally Ill - New Bill Introduced

Information from our U.S. Social Security: Disability Information section - (Full List).

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