As this blog often notes, it isn't easy to successfully apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration rejects a majority of first-time applications, and although applicants get chances to appeal this rejection, getting through the bureaucracy can be difficult.
This is not to say the Social Security Administration is heartless, however. The SSA has a list of certain conditions that merit special treatment. The list is known as Compassionate Allowances and includes certain types of cancer, brain disorders and rare childhood conditions.
By listing these conditions under Compassionate Allowances, the SSA acknowledges that, by definition, they meet the agency's criteria, and that eligible applicants should receive benefits. By organizing Compassionate Allowances this way, the SSA speeds up the application time for people with the most serious disabilities.
For example, the Compassionate Allowances program acknowledges that adult Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig's disease, is a fatal neurological disease that progresses rapidly and affects a person's ability to control their muscles. With this in mind, the SSA reduces some of the bureaucratic friction an applicant with ALS must go through before receiving benefits.
Since medical science is always growing and learning about new conditions and new treatments, the list of conditions that merit Compassionate Allowances must be continuously updated. The SSA invites applicants to submit the name of a serious condition that should merit inclusion if the applicant does not see it on the list.
The Compassionate Allowances program can help the most desperate applicants get their benefits more quickly, but the application process can still be tough. People applying for Social Security Disability benefits can talk to a lawyer with experience in this area of the law about their options, help them with applications and argue for them at hearings and appeals.