Normally, the approval process for gaining SSDI benefits can take several months to well over a year, depending on an individual’s case. However, Social Security has an obligation to provide benefits as quickly as possible for those who have extremely serious medical conditions.
These conditions have been defined and are known as Compassionate Allowances (CAL). They are a subset of the Listing of Impairments that Social Security uses to define what conditions qualify for SSDI benefits. The list is made up of primarily certain types of cancers, rare disorders that are expected to be terminal, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disorders.
Persons with conditions listed as Compassionate Allowances generally have to provide much less medical information that can be obtained quickly, than a normal applicant, and their applications are approved in a matter of weeks, instead of a long and extended period.
CAL conditions are selected by a variety of methods ranging from pubic outreach hearings to working with medical and scientific experts and with the National Institutes of Health. There are about 220 qualifying conditions and the current list of those Compassionate Allowances can be found here. New conditions are added annually to the list after extensive research and input.
There are no special application procedures to get SSDI or SSI benefits if a person’s condition is a part of the Compassionate Allowances list. Applicants should go through normal submission procedures and Social Security will identify and expedite applications with a CAL condition.
While CAL claims are normally approved in a matter of weeks, how long that approval takes is ultimately determined by how quickly Social Security can get medical evidence from doctors and whether or not a follow-up examination is needed to verify the condition.