When a person is permanently disabled and unable to work, money becomes a huge concern – both in the short and long term. For a long period of time, though, Los Angeles area residents struggling to stay above water financially were weighed down by the fact that applications for Social Security Disability benefits took too long to review, often pushing them past the point of no return.
Fast forward, then, to 2008 when the Social Security Administration implemented a new program aimed at addressing urgent applications more quickly. This program, known as “compassionate allowances,” offers approval of benefits within 15 days for certain medical conditions. Presently, those medical conditions include 225 different ailments from cancer to neurological diseases.
The program has helped numerous people across the country. For example, in early 2013 one Midwestern businessman found himself facing a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at age 55. Unable to work, he applied for benefits a few months after diagnosis and within a few weeks was receiving over $2,000 a month. The speed of the review process is in part down to technology that helps identify urgent requests and a reliance on medical records to prove one’s condition.
For those who are fast-tracked, the rate of approval is almost 95 percent, while those who do not receive initial approval enter an expedited appeals process. Unfortunately, not all applications for SSD benefits qualify for the program, and many requests may not be for a disability included on the program’s list. If this is the case, the standard review process can take longer. On average, regular applications take just under 90 days, while an appeal can take an additional 450 days.
For those currently suffering from a disability due to an injury or illness, seeking an understanding of the SSD system can be the first step towards obtaining desperately needed benefits. Understanding the options available depending on one’s situation – including whether a particular situation could qualify for the “compassionate allowances” program – can be vital in securing help in the effort to address the needs of a person unable to work due to a disability.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Compassionate allowances’ fast-track applications for disability benefits,” Judi Hasson, May 14, 2014