Program Provides Expedited Review for People With Severely Disabling Diseases
Washington DC—–Peter L. Saltonstall, president and CEO of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), today thanked the Social Security Administration (SSA) for expanding the list of “Compassionate Allowances” to provide fast-track disability decisions to Americans with the most seriously disabling medical conditions.
Saltonstall’s comment was in response to an announcement yesterday by Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, that 52 new Compassionate Allowances conditions would be added to the list. The new conditions primarily involve neurological disorders, cancers and rare diseases.
“The Compassionate Allowances program allows patients with certain very disabling conditions to receive disability decisions within days rather than months or years,” Saltonstall said. “This is very important to the patients and families NORD represents. We appreciate the commitment of Commissioner Astrue and the SSA staff to improving the disability application process.”
In announcing the additions to the list, Commissioner Astrue said that “Social Security will continue to work with the medical community and patient organizations to add more conditions. With our Compassionate Allowances program, we quickily approved disability benefits for nearly 61,000 people with severe disabilities in the past fiscal year, and nearly 173,000 applications since the program began.”
NORD and other patient advocacy organizations, as well as the National Institutes of Health, have provided input to SSA for the Compassionate Allowances program. Commissioner Astrue originally announced the establishment of the program at a NORD patient/family conference.
Launched in 2008 with a list of 50 diseases and conditions, the program is aimed at identifying medical diagnoses that clearly meet the statutory standard for disability. When individuals with those diagnoses apply for disability assistance, they receive fast-track review so that they are notified of the final decision within days.
The 52 new Compassionate Allowances conditions, which will become effective in August, bring the total to 165. The list is posted on SSA’s website, with the new conditions highlighted in red.
Saltonstall said NORD also commends SSA for improving its online disability application process. Starting April 21, adults who file for benefits online will have the option to electronically sign and submit their medical records authorization forms, so that they may complete their disability application in a single online session rather than printing, signing and mailing some paper forms.