If you become permanently disabled before your retirement age and are no longer able to work, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that allows you to apply for your full Social Security benefits now.
Don’t be discouraged by the stories you hear about the application and determination process taking months, or even years. If you have one of the conditions included on the “Compassionate Allowances” list, your application may be approved in a matter of weeks.
How great that would be!
Peter Smith, disability policy analyst with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Compassionate Allowances and Disability Outreach stated in a September 2013 webinar, “Compassionate Allowances or CAL conditions are so severe that proof of the diagnosis alone is enough to make a disability determination.”
He added, “It’s a fast track program that moves individuals to the head of the line so they can receive a decision sooner than they would otherwise.”
The Compassionate Allowances program began in 2008 with 25 conditions and the list has since grown to 225. The Social Security Administration (SSA) adds conditions based on input from a variety of expert sources including advocacy groups and hearings co-sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Since the program began, the SSA and NIH have conducted seven hearings related to:
- Rare diseases
- Traumatic brain injury and stroke
- Early onset dementia
- Cardiovascular disease and multiple organ transplants
- Autoimmune diseases
Once SSA decides to add new conditions to the list, its computer systems have to be updated. Each condition links to an ‘impairment summary’ that provides details such as:
- Alternate names for the condition
- Diagnostic testing, physical findings and ICD-9-CM coding
- Onset and progression
Click here for an example of an impairment summary for Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
CAL is not a separate program from SSDI. You can apply for SSDI online or in person at a Social Security field office. If a CAL condition is present in your application based on the SSA computer system’s ‘search and find’ software, your case is flagged and placed on a fast track. The claim adjudicator makes the final determination.
If your condition is on the Compassionate Allowances list, the good news is, you may get financial help sooner than you thought possible. Need help understanding the application process? Worried about how to plan for the future? Contact our special needs and estate planning attorneys to discuss all of your options.