New Conditions Covered by Fast-Tracked SSD Benefits
October 18th, 2017 by Attorney John Colvin
In 2016, processing time for initial Social Security Disability applications averaged 110 days. For people who have a serious disability, or a severe or terminal illness, waiting months for a decision about their disability benefits can be agonizing. The Social Security Administration recognizes that fact, and it attempts to fast-track claims for certain illnesses and disabilities through its Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program.
Normally, even when a person has a qualifying disability, the SSA must determine how severe the disability is, whether it’s likely to last longer than a year, and whether it prohibits the applicant from working and/or limits their ability to engage in normal daily activities. Making all of those determinations requires a careful review of evidence. But some conditions are known to be so severe that the SSA will almost certainly approve benefits. Those conditions are eligible for CAL processing.
More than 228 conditions are eligible for fast-track CAL processing, including three conditions that the SSA added to the list in September:
CACH–Vanishing White Matter Disease-Infantile and Childhood Onset Forms – This condition involves a mutation of the gene that makes proteins in the body. A child born with this condition may appear healthy, but rapid deterioration may occur. Symptoms of this disease include neurological deterioration, loss of muscle coordination, seizures, muscle spasticity, and frequent fevers. This disease is usually fatal, and there is no cure.
Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy – This condition – also known as congenital MMD1 – causes cognitive impairment, weak muscles, and can impair vision, hearing, and speech. Some children outgrow many of the physical conditions associated with this disease, but the cognitive impairment is permanent. According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, congenital MMD1 used to be fatal in infants, but advances in medical technology have improved survival rates.
Kleefstra Syndrome – This genetic disorder causes intellectual disability, along with physical symptoms. Commonly, children with this disorder have delayed or absent speech, low muscle tone, seizures, heart conditions, apathy/unresponsiveness, and behavioral problems. Many other physical symptoms may be present.
About the Compassionate Allowances Program (CAL)
As of September 2017, about 500,000 people had received disability benefits for qualifying CAL conditions. The SSA has added conditions to the CAL list based on testimony gathered at hearings and from information submitted by the public, advocacy groups, and the National Institutes of Health. The SSA shows that it held its most recent hearing in 2011, but it is still accepting submissions from people who wish to have a condition added to the CAL list.
While an applicant with a CAL condition can expect a much faster processing time – often days, instead of months – they are still subject to SSD’s five-month waiting period, meaning they won’t receive a disability check until five months from the onset of their illness or condition.
The process of applying for disability benefits and waiting for an answer is frustrating for families who need medical help. Often, months after applying, the SSA tells applicants their claims are denied. The next course of action is filing an appeal, which is also a lengthy process. But with the help of an experienced SSD attorney, applicants are more likely to win their appeal or to have their initial claim approved.
John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has successfully represented clients throughout Tennessee and Alabama who have needed help with SSD claims. For 20 years, he has been helping people with serious illnesses and disabilities put their lives back on track. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call 1-931-962-1044 or submit this online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.