The U.S. Social Security Administration offers services to disadvantaged and underprivileged segments of the American public. These segments include the disabled, the elderly and the chronically ill. It also seeks to provide millions of Americans with healthcare through Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as provide supplemental income for people who need help purchasing basic items like food and clothes.
However, many people who require these services find the application process difficult to navigate and end up being denied due to paperwork or for administrative reasons. When someone is denied by the SSA he or she may appeal the decision.
Appeals begin with a Request for Reconsideration, and can lead to a disability hearing, a review by the Appeals Council, and in extreme cases, a trip to federal court. Needless to say the entire process can take a long time.
Compassionate Allowances Provide Quick Path to Benefits
The SSA recognized that certain conditions almost always meet the statutory standard for disability and developed a “shortcut” for people afflicted with them. These conditions have been placed on the Compassionate Allowances list, otherwise known as CAL. According to the SSA, the CAL system was launched in 2008 with a list of 50 diseases and conditions, and has grown to over 100 in recent months.
The point of CAL is to quickly identify and approve applications in which the applicant suffers from a severe disability. Much like the normal application process, however, it is essential to strictly adhere to the application’s rules and requirements because a denial might affect someone’s ability to afford food, medications or other necessities. It is beneficial to speak with an experienced social security benefits advocate if you are seeking benefits (or if you have previously been denied), especially because so much rests on an application’s approval.
Thirteen New CAL Items Added
The SSA reviews the CAL conditions as new medical information becomes available. The most recent addition was in October 2011 when Michael Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced the addition of 13 new CAL conditions involving the immune system or dealing with neurological impairments. Some of these additions are:
- Lowe Syndrome
- Lewy Body Dementia
- Multiple System Atrophy
- Malignant Multiple Sclerosis
- Angelman Syndrome
These, of course, are just a handful of qualifying conditions eligible for CAL benefits, and a complete list can be found on the SSA’s website. If you need help applying for Social Security benefits please speak with a qualified advocate to discuss your rights and legal options.