So­cial Se­cu­rity to speed up han­dling of rare disease claims

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Stephn Ohlemacher COM­PAS­SION­ATE AL­LOWANCES

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:

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