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Issues with the SSA's Compassionate Allowance program

Being diagnosed with a serious illness is shocking, emotional and life altering. No one expects such a diagnosis, whether they are young or old, and many questions arise when such a diagnosis is made. Can they beat the odds and survive it? What treatments are involved? How will treatments impact my health and ability to enjoy life? Can I afford these treatments? How will this disease impact my loved ones and ability to support them and myself? The answer to some of these questions may be to seek out assistance from the Social Security Administration.

This government agency developed the Compassionate Allowance program, which was designed to get benefits quickly to those diagnosed with severe and terminal illnesses. If an individual has been diagnosed with one of the 200 diseases listed on the SSA list, he or she could take advantage of this program.

While the purpose and intention of this program have been understood and enjoyed by many, the fact of the matter is that these claims for disability benefits still are not quick enough. Although this program bypasses the often lengthy process that takes months and even years before obtaining an approval, the unfortunate reality is that this "fast track" to get benefits still often results in them coming in too late or not in time.

A 2016 study found that 25 percent of applicants for the Compassionate Allowance program died within three months of applying for benefits. Although the study found that it took an average of 47 days to obtain approval, patients are unable to receive their first benefit until the sixth month after approval. This delay, while only sixth months, makes it very challenging to understand what treatments they could get or allow them to timely start treatments that could extend his or her life.

Whether you are suffering a serious, severe or terminal disease, it is important to understand what Social Security disability programs you qualify for. Additionally, it is essential to understand the application process, likely timeline and what rights you have when pitfalls are reached.

Source: Firstcoastnews.com, "Delays and confusing procedures contradict government's 'compassionate' program," Julia Jenae, June 8, 2017

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