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How Do I Know if I Qualify for a Compassionate Allowance?

Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are only available to people who have serious, long term, or permanent disabilities.

Some applicants may also qualify for expedited review of their disability claims because they have conditions that the SSA has identified as inherently disabling.

These conditions are part of the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance (CAL) program and an applicant with a CAL condition can expect to receive a decision on eligibility within just a few weeks after filing.

The Compassionate Allowance Program

The CAL initiative was introduced in 2008, in an effort to speed up the review and approval of disability applications filed for specific medical conditions.

This initiative was in response to the significant delays experienced by many disability applicants.

Prior to the CAL program, even those applicants with terminal illnesses and other severe impairments often waited months and sometimes years before their claims proceeded through the full review process with the ever-backlogged SSA.

Since the implementation of CAL, however, most applicants with CAL-approved conditions receive an eligibility determination in a matter of weeks.

CAL-Approved Conditions

The SSA holds annual hearings on the subject of CAL conditions. Experts are asked to testify and provide specific criteria for determining whether a condition should be added to the CAL program. In 2008, there were only 50 conditions on the CAL list. Today, there are more than 200.

Do I Qualify for a Compassionate Allowance?

CAL inclusion doesn’t just speed up the review of a disability claim; it also minimizes the medical records necessary for proving disability.

Every condition that appears on the Compassionate Allowances list has an accompanying document that gives a quick description of the necessary evidence for approving a claim.

These documents are used by disability determinations staff when they review claims, but they can also be used by you, your doctor, and your disability attorney to determine if you meet CAL review requirements or if you must proceed through the standard disability review process.

To view the CAL description for each condition on the Compassionate Allowance list, all you need to do is click on the name of the condition. This will open a POMS document or “procedural and operations manual” description of CAL-review details.

Just keep in mind that every CAL POMS document also includes references to the Blue Book listings for various disabilities. These references appear at the bottom of the CAL POMS and direct readers to specific portions of the SSA’s Blue Book, which is also searchable online.

Getting Help with Your Claim

A disability attorney can help you understand the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances and standard disability listings. He or she can also assist with gathering evidence and arguing eligibility, if necessary.

In some cases, applicants need to follow up with the SSA to force a quick disability determination (QDD) under the CAL program. Having a disability lawyer on your side in an instance like this can help ensure you receive a decision on your eligibility for disability benefits as quickly as possible.