The Compassionate Allowance program is designed to provide applicants with benefits in a prompt fashion. In order to qualify for this program, applicants must suffer from conditions that are so severe they clearly qualify for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.
Critics argue the program is not as efficient as it should be and that it is used to “wait out” applicants that are suffering from fatal diseases.
How long does it take for an application for the Compassionate Allowance program to get processed? The Social Security Administration (SSA) notes that the amount of time it takes the agency to make a decision on an application for this program depends on a number of factors. These factors can include the amount of time it takes for medical professionals to provide documentation and whether or not the agency decides a medical examination is necessary to support the claim.
Is the review process prompt? A recent article by a CBS affiliate out of Chicago dug into this question, providing the story of two different patients with terminal illnesses who clearly qualified for SSD benefits. One man, with stage IV pancreatic cancer, received his first payment a week prior to his death. Another applicant, a woman with Stage IV ovarian cancer, qualified for benefits in February but was told she could not collect on these benefits until July.
In addition to stories of difficulties faced by two specific applicants, the piece also provides some solid data. In 2016 there were 68,827 applicants approved for SSD benefits under the Compassionate Allowance program. It took approximately six months after approval by the agency for these applicants to receive the benefits they were entitled.
What can applicants do to better ensure success? One important step is to hire legal counsel. An attorney can help to better ensure that the initial application is filled out correctly, reducing the risk of a denial. If there is a denial, an attorney can help to build a case to fight the decision.