Social Security to speed up handling of rare disease claims
WASHINGTON — In an effort to ease the burden of being stricken with a debilitating condition, the Social Security Administration is expanding a program that fast-tracks disability claims by people who get serious illnesses such as cancer, early-onset Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease — claims that could take months or years to approve in the past.
While providing faster benefits, the program also is designed to ease the workload of an agency that has been swamped by disability claims since the economic recession a few years ago.
Disability claims are up by more than 20 percent from 2008. The Compassionate Allowances program approves many claims for a select group of conditions within a few days, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said. The program is being expanded today to include a total of 200 diseases and conditions.
Many of the conditions are rare; all are so serious that people who suffer from them easily meet the definition of being disabled, Astrue said.
“Why for someone who is going to die within 15 months do we need 15 years of medical records?” Astrue asked in an interview. “If somebody’s got a confirmed diagnosis of ALS ... it’s a death sentence, and there is no use in burdening them with paperwork.”
The Social Security Administration is expanding its Compassionate Allowances program, which is designed to provide decisions on disability claims within several days — instead of months or years — for people with a select group of diseases or conditions.
The agency is adding 35 conditions to the program, bringing the total to 200.
For the complete list of Compassionate Allowances conditions, go online at: