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How the SSA's Compassionate Allowances initiative helps the truly ill

As we've previously discussed on our blog, the Social Security Disability Insurance program is designed to provide much-needed financial assistance to those individuals with qualifying work histories who meet the Social Security Administration's rather exacting definition of total disability.

To recap, a person is consider disabled for the purposes of SSDI benefits if the SSA determines that their medical condition 1) prevents them from performing their previous work, 2) prevents them from adjusting to other work, and 3) has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

Even though this might seem like a straightforward determination, the reality is that the process of applying for and ultimately receiving SSDI benefits can take months or, in some cases, years.

While this potentially long wait can prove frustrating to financially distressed individuals suffering from serious medical conditions, this frustration understandably rises to a whole new level for those financially distressed individuals suffering from medical conditions that are at best completely debilitating.

The good news for people who find themselves in this situation, however, is that the SSA has recognized that there are applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that they will very clearly be able to satisfy the agency's disability standards as outlined above.

Specifically, it has created what is known as the Compassionate Allowances initiative, which is essentially a comprehensive list of diseases and conditions that are seen as so devastating that they will invariably allow applicants to qualify for disability benefits based on minimally objective medical information and, as such, qualifies their applications for fast-tracked processing.

In other words, an applicant suffering from a CAL condition like acute leukemia will see their application for SSDI benefits processed in an expedited manner, such that they can anticipate a decision in weeks, as opposed to months or years.

We'll discuss more about the CAL initiative in our next post, including taking a closer look at qualifying conditions and other special aspects of the program.

In the meantime, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions about disability benefits or your initial claim has been denied.

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView Magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

Ms. Easter was voted by her peers as a “Top Attorney” in Cityview Magazine for Family Law / Divorce / Child Support in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Mr. Devore was voted by his peers as a "Top Attorney" by Knoxville’s CityView Magazine for Social Security Disability in 2017. "

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