Finding “Compassion” Through SSD

When someone is seriously ill and unable to work, they need Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits right away. Unfortunately, as anyone who has applied for SSD before knows, the application process can be grueling and slow. It can be months before the applicant hears anything back. If someone has a grave or potentially fatal condition, they might not be able to wait that long. For people in this dire situation, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers something called Compassionate Allowance.

What is Compassionate Allowance?

The SSA uses Compassionate Allowance to quickly and efficiently get benefits to people whose medical conditions are so obviously severe that they meet the SSA’s definition of disability. When someone qualifies for Compassionate Allowance, they can receive benefits in as quickly as ten days from their initial application. This allows people with serious, life-threatening injuries to quickly get the medical care they need, even if they unable to work and suffering from lost wages.

Qualifications for Compassionate Allowance

There are currently about 80 conditions that automatically qualify applicants for Compassionate Allowance. They include:

  • Various types of cancers, including leukemia, ovarian cancer, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and esophageal cancer, if the cancer is inoperable, recurrent, or unable to be removed through surgery
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rapidly progressing brain disease that is more commonly known as “mad cow” disease
  • Friedrich’s Ataxia, a disease that affects the nervous system and causes issues with speech
  • Rare genetic conditions caused by chromosomal abnormalities, like Pallister-Killian Syndrome, Patau Syndrome, and cri-du-chat syndrome

Some of the conditions on this list may be apparent from birth or a very early age, while others may progress over time, or develop later in life. Many of these conditions will ultimately prove fatal. However, not all potentially fatal diseases automatically qualify an applicant for Compassionate Allowance.  For example, autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) often proves fatal when it reaches a certain stage, but does not automatically qualify for Compassionate Allowance.

Applying for Compassionate Allowance

There is not a separate form that allows applicants to specifically file for a Compassionate Allowance. However, having thorough and accurate information may speed up the process. To ensure SSA has all the necessary information, the application information should include:

  • The name of the condition, along with any alternate names. For example, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is also known as subacute spongiform encephalopathy, prion disease, or variant bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
  • A description of the condition
  • Information about the onset, progression, and treatment of the condition
  • Any information on testing, particularly diagnostic testing and physical findings

When a condition is rapidly progressing, fatal, or severely debilitating, it is important to act quickly! Whether you’re applying for yourself or for a loved one, consulting an experienced SSD attorney can be an important step.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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