When a person in Wisconsin is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) it essentially a death sentence. These diseases, and a few types of cancers, are progressive and fatal.
The Social Security Administration has determined that it will fast-track a few such diseases in an effort to get the Social Security disability benefits into the hands of the claimants while they are still alive. It is a compassionate allowance.
The quick turnaround will also serve to clear some of the claimant backlog. Since the economic recession began in 2007, the SSA has been swamped by additional SSDI claims.
Take a look at some of these numbers:
- Disability claims are up by more than 20 percent compared to 2008
- About 3.2 million SSDI claims were filed this past year
- Two-thirds of initial applications are rejected
- An appeal (heard by an administrative law judge) takes an average of 354 days
- The 11 million SSDI beneficiaries are disabled workers, spouses and children
- Benefits average $1,112 a month
There are now about 200 conditions on the compassionate allowance list. In addition to Alzheimer's disease and ALS, the list also includes acute leukemia, adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma, advanced breast cancer that has spread to other organs, Alpers' disease, and type 2 Gaucher's disease and Menkes disease.
Social Security disability insurance was created with the idea that people should be able to make a claim and receive a benefit in a timely manner. Perhaps the addition of more conditions on the compassionate allowance list will ease some suffering and provide much needed assistance to those who need it.
Source: Associated Press, "Social Security fast-tracks rare-disease claims," Stephen Ohlemacher, Dec. 5, 2012