Social Security has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that their conditions obviously meet disability standards.
Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs.
CAL conditions are developed as a result of information received at public outreach hearings, comments received from the Social Security and Disability Determination Service communities, counsel of medical and scientific experts, and our research with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Also, we considered which conditions are most likely to meet our current definition of disability.
Commissioner Astrue has held seven Compassionate Allowances public outreach hearings. The hearings were on rare diseases, cancers, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke, early-onset Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease and multiple organ transplants and autoimmune diseases.
In April, Commissioner Astrue announced at the World Orphan Drug Congress 52 new Compassionate Allowances conditions, taking the list of conditions from 113 to 165. These conditions involve cancers, neurological, and immune system disorders affecting adults and children. The conditions are effective on August 11, 2012.
Commissioner Astrue has announced a small grants program for graduate students to improve the disability determination process, including the Compassionate Allowances initiative. The Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program makes small stipends available to graduate students for innovative research relevant to the disability program. SSA awarded an approximately $1.5 million, five-year grant to Policy Research, Inc. (PRI) to serve as program manager. In early 2012, SSA awarded the first grants to eight graduate students for research on a variety of disability topics, including improvements to the CAL program. You can find details and the application forms at: http://ddp.policyresearchinc.org/default.aspx.
Additional information about how compassionate allowances are processed
You may submit written comments about the Compassionate Allowances Initiative to: Compassionate.Allowances@ssa.gov