Compassionate Allowances under Social Security now Includes Mesothelioma

The Compassionate Allowances system was set up by the U.S. Social Security Administration to provide benefits quickly to those applicants with serious, life threatening medical conditions. Social Security benefits are usually handled on a case-by-case basis, and can take an extended amount of time to gain approval. Compassionate Allowances allow the Administration to target the most clearly disabled Americans based on preliminary medical records. Certain cases, such as mesothelioma, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and acute leukemia, can be allowed as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed.

Mesothelioma attorneys would like to highlight this program and the immense relief it provides for many cancer patients. More than 30of the conditions on the Compassionate Allowances program list are cancer-related, giving hope for thousands of patients struggling with the devastating effects of the illness. The program was pioneered by Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue in 2008, when he recognized the problem facing those with serious medical issues trying to apply for Social Security disability. The application process is long, requiring the approval of many bureaucratic channels before Americans can receive any benefits. Those with terminal illnesses found the application and review process particularly forbidding, as many of them passed away before they ever received their first check.

The first 100 pre-approved diseases were added to the program in 2011. In 2012, another 100 were added. The program is limited to those diagnoses with a poor prognosis or requires extremely vigorous treatment, or both, such as the case of mesothelioma. An estimated 150,000 citizens would benefit from this new program. New conditions are expected to be added to the Allowance list annually, as the Social Security Association works in conjunction with medical experts and the National Institute of Health among many others.

The Compassionate Allowance initiative is not a separate program from the Social Security Disability programs, it is merely a way to expedite the process. What is unique about the initiative is that patients themselves are not required to fill out any additional paperwork or jump through any hoops to benefit from the Allowance. Individuals simply fill out the standard Social Security disability claim, and the Administration will automatically expedite the application for those suffering from a Compassionate Allowance condition. Claims may be filled out online, at local field offices, or by calling the toll-free number. Decisions are made for these individuals in a matter of weeks, instead of months or years for average cases.

Commissioner Astrue has held seven Compassionate Allowances public outreach hearings. The hearings were on rare diseases, cancers, traumatic brain injury, and stroke, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease and multiple organ transplants and autoimmune diseases. In December 2012, Commissioner Astrue held an event at the Hart Senate Building in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the milestone of reaching 200 Compassionate Allowances conditions.

Patients used to regularly contact the Social Security Administration soon after they were diagnosed, complaining about the length of time it took to receive benefits. Now, since the implementation of the Allowance, patients call in amazement and gratitude that the process was so efficient and effective.

A complete list of the Compassionate Allowances conditions can be found here. Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm applaud Commissioner Astrue and his staff for creating the long-awaited solution to this major problem. Victims of mesothelioma should never have to worry about how they will make ends meet or pay for their basic healthcare needs.

Although it is uncommon, some individuals applying for Social Security disability based on the Compassionate Allowance conditions are not approved. This is often due to an improperly completed application or lack of sufficient medical records. If you want to increase your chances of receiving benefits efficiently, you should contact a mesothelioma attorney.

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