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Compassionate allowance may help fast track some SSDI claims

This article looks at the compassionate allowance program for fast-tracking SSDI applications.

Delays and wait times for Social Security claims and appeals have reached notorious lengths. As the Washington Post reports, the average wait time to get a hearing for an appeal is around 600 days, with close to a million people currently waiting for their day before an administrative law judge. Wait times for SSDI benefits are extreme, but it is important for eligible claimants to not give up on applying for benefits they are entitled to. A special program, called "compassionate allowance" (CAL) may be able to help those who are suffering from the most severe and acute conditions fast track their applications.

How bad are wait times?

Currently there are 986,000 people currently waiting for a hearing before an administrative law judge to learn the fate of their SSDI applications. That has created a waitlist of about 600 days, which is even after a 15-month effort was undertaken to try to reduce the number of people on the waitlist.

The problem is mainly due to funding and staffing. There are simply too few administrative law judges to handle all of the cases that are piling up, and those judges have too few staff members supporting them. Cuts to Social Security have also meant there has not been enough funding to hire the staff necessary. President Trump's proposed budget for fiscal 2019 would, unfortunately, cut Social Security funding even more.

Compassionate allowance fast track

Those extremely long waitlists may lead some to conclude that even trying to claim SSD benefits is too much of a hassle. But SSDI benefits are too important to give up on. For those with acute and severe conditions, a fast-track process may be available. The government maintains a list of health conditions that are eligible for what is called "compassionate allowance" (CAL). These ailments tend to be particularly severe and include health issues such as cancers, neurological disorders, immune system diseases, and serious heart conditions.

As Kiplinger reports, nearly 95 percent of CAL applicants are approved, which is a far higher approval rate than standard SSDI claims. Those that are not approved are placed in an expedited appeals process. Initial applications may be approved within 15 days, which is a huge improvement over the years it can take making a standard SSDI claim.

Applying for SSDI benefits

Living with a disability is never easy and for millions of Americans SSDI benefits provide the lifeline they need to get by. That is why extremely long waitlists are so devastating: they hurt the most vulnerable members of society.

The stakes with disability benefits are high and that is why applicants should talk to an attorney before making their initial application. An attorney can assist clients with the claims process, so as to maximize the chances of a successful claim the first time around.