Monday, October 27, 2008

Social Security Announces Nationwide Launch of Compassionate Allowances

A list of the first 50 impairments

Monday, October 27, 2008 Mark Lassiter, Press Officer, For Immediate Release 410-965-8904,

News Release


SSA Press Office 440 Altmeyer Building 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235 410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

Social Security Announces Nationwide Launch of

Compassionate Allowances

Process Will Fast Track Applications For People with Cancers and

Rare Diseases

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced the national rollout of the

agency’s Compassionate Allowances initiative, a way to expedite the processing of disability

claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously

meet Social Security’s standards.

“Getting benefits quickly to people with the most severe medical conditions is both the right and

the compassionate thing to do,” Commissioner Astrue said. “This initiative will allow us to

make decisions on these cases in a matter of days, rather than months or years.”

Social Security is launching this expedited decision process with a total of 50 conditions. Over

time, more diseases and conditions will be added. A list of the first 50 impairments -- 25 rare

diseases and 25 cancers -- can be found at

Before announcing this initiative, Social Security held public hearings to receive information

from experts on rare diseases and cancers. The agency also enlisted the assistance of the

National Institutes of Health.

Compassionate Allowances is the second piece of the agency’s two-track, fast-track system for

certain disability claims. When combined with the agency’s Quick Disability Determination

process, and once fully implemented, this two-track system could result in six to nine percent of

disability claims, the cases for as much as a quarter million people, being decided in an average

of six to eight days.

"This is an outstanding achievement for the Social Security Administration," said Peter

Saltonstall, President of the National Organization for Rare Disorders. "It has taken Social

Security less than a year to develop this much-needed program that will benefit those whose

claims merit expedited consideration based on the nature of their disease. Disability backlogs

cause a hardship for patients and their families. Commissioner Astrue and his staff deserve our

thanks for a job well done.”

“Unfortunately, many hardworking people with cancer may not only face intensive treatment to

save their lives, but they may also find themselves truly unable to perform their daily workrelated

activities and as result, may face serious financial concerns, such as the loss of income

and the cost of treatment,” said Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society

Cancer Action Network. “The Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances

program will help streamline the disability benefits application process so that benefits are

quickly provided to those who need them most.”

“This is America, and it simply is not acceptable for people to wait years for a final decision on a

disability claim,” Commissioner Astrue said. “I am committed to a process that is as fair and

speedy as possible. The launch of Compassionate Allowances is another step to ensuring

Americans with disabilities, especially those with certain cancers and rare diseases, get the

benefits they need quickly.”


A list of the first 50 impairments

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