Social Security adds 38 compassionate allowances

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The Social Security Administration has added 38 more conditions to its list of compassionate allowances.

Compassionate allowances are a way to identify medical conditions and diseases that qualify for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits, which allows the agency to electronically target and make faster decisions for individuals with more severe disabilities.

This is the first expansion since the original list of 50 conditions – 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers – was created during October 2008. The new conditions range from rare diseases that primarily affect children to adult brain disorders.

The additions expand the scope of compassionate allowances to a broader subgroup of conditions, such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

“The expansion means tens of thousands of Americans with devastating disabilities will now get approved for benefits in a matter of days rather than months and years,” said Michael J. Astrue, commissioner of Social Security.

In developing the expanded list of conditions, Social Security held public hearings and worked with the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Organization for Rare Disorders and other groups.

“The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s indicates significant cognitive impairment that interferes with daily living activities, including the ability to work,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Now, individuals who are dealing with the enormous challenges of Alzheimer’s won’t also have to endure the financial and emotional toll of a long disability decision process.”

On March 1, Social Security will begin electronically identifying these 38 additional conditions.

For more information about the agency’s compassionate allowances initiative, go to