Nearly seven percent of all claims filed for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits were, in 2015, fast-tracked. As detailed in a recent report on the business website Benzinga, more than 180,000 claims were expedited via the Social Security Administration's Compassionate Allowances (CAL) provision. That's an increase from the roughly 175,000 claims expedited via CAL in 2014.
Fortunately, the trend seems likely to continue.
What is the Compassionate Allowances provision?
CAL was established in 2008 as a means to help SSD petitioners with severe disabilities obtain benefits more quickly. Simply put, if a petitioner's condition falls under the CAL program's Listing of Impairments (on which more than 220 conditions are listed), then their claim is likely to receive a decision in a matter of weeks - rather than the months or years petitioners otherwise face.
This is crucial. Applications for SSD benefits are constantly increasing - there were more than 2.5 million petitions in 2015 - and examiners within the Administration have workloads that are often unmanageable. What this means is that petitioners often endure extraordinarily long waits before they receive benefits. Anyone filing "can easily see their claim take three or four years to reach completion," one expert noted, "which is why fast-tracking processes are so critical to people who have serious health conditions."
For its part, the Social Security Administration acknowledges that it "has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions...obviously meet disability standards." In its outreach hearings, it emphasized its efforts to support individuals with a range of conditions including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke
- Early-onset Alzheimer's disease and related dementias
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple organ transplants
- Autoimmune diseases
A long way to go
Still, the percentage of claimants who qualify for CAL is small. The Social Security Administration reserves the designation for those most in need; roughly 25 percent of individuals who filed successful CAL claims passed away within three months of sending in their application.
Nevertheless, though the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly (and sometimes not at all...and sometimes turn backward), the Administration appears legitimately dedicated to supporting citizens in need of help. One hopes the government's efforts to adjudicate SSD claims more quickly continue to expand.