Friday, April 16, 2010

Faster Disability Application will Benefit Thousands

By Elizabeth Wertime, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Albany, NY

Tens of thousands more people will benefit from a faster and more efficient process when applying for disability benefits, thanks to an expansion in Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances.

Compassionate Allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that clearly qualify for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits — allowing for faster decisions in the most obvious cases.

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced 38 more conditions that are being added to the Compassionate Allowances list. This expands the original list of 50 conditions (25 rare diseases and 25 cancers) that was announced in October 2008. The new conditions range from adult brain disorders to rare diseases that primarily affect children.

“The addition of these new conditions expands the scope of Compassionate Allowances to a broader subgroup of conditions like early-onset Alzheimer’s disease,” Commissioner Astrue said. “The expansion we are announcing today means tens of thousands of Americans with devastating disabilities will now get approved for benefits in a matter of days rather than months and years.”

In developing the expanded list of conditions, Social Security held public hearings and worked closely with the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), and other groups.

"The diagnosis of Alzheimer's indicates significant cognitive impairment that interferes with daily living activities, including the ability to work," said Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association. "Now, individuals who are dealing with the enormous challenges of Alzheimer's won't also have to endure the financial and emotional toll of a long disability decision process."

“This truly innovative program will provide invaluable assistance and support to patients and families coping with severely disabling rare diseases,” said Peter L. Saltonstall, President and CEO of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). “On behalf of those patients and families, I want to thank Commissioner Astrue and his enthusiastic team for creating and now expanding a program that will have a direct impact on the quality of life of thousands of individuals."

“We will continue to hold hearings and look for other diseases and conditions that can be added to our list of Compassionate Allowances," said Commissioner Astrue. “There can be no higher priority than getting disability benefits quickly to those Americans with these severe and life-threatening conditions.”

To learn more, and to see a complete list of the 38 new conditions, read the press release at

For a complete list of the 88 Compassionate Allowance conditions, visit

Get up-to-date information about Social Security's Programs and benefits @

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