compassionate allowanceObtaining Social Security disability benefits is a challenging and long process. Disability applicants in 2023 waited, on average, around 223 days, or seven months and thirteen days, for an initial decision regardless of their condition or whether the claim was approved or denied. Furthermore, since nearly two out every three applications for benefits are turned down, there is another long wait for a hearing date to appeal a denial. In Nebraska and Iowa, the average wait time for a hearing is 10 months.

But applicants with certain serious life-threatening conditions need quicker decisions.

 In attempt to address this situation the Social Security Administration has developed the Compassionate Allowances program for disabled workers who have medical conditions that are so serious that it’s plainly obvious they would qualify for benefits. Under this program called “CAL” for short, Social Security fast tracks disability determinations to certain qualified applicants. Usually, CAL applicants do not have to wait long for their payments to start—most receive Compassionate Allowance benefits within a few weeks to two months after the application is received. If you have a condition that falls under the Compassionate Allowance umbrella, the requirements for medical data to back up your claim are also less rigorous than for other disability claims.

Not all conditions qualify for CAL. This program only applies to a specific list of severe impairments. For example, a person can qualify for a Compassionate Allowance if they can document they have inoperable cancer which cannot be completely removed, or has spread to other parts of their body. Other conditions which may be eligible for Compassionate Allowance consideration include ALS, some types of muscular dystrophy and muscular atrophy, early-onset Alzheimer's disease, certain adult brain disorders, and several rare disorders that affect children. In all there are 200 conditions on the CAL list (as of 2023).

 (Use this link for the complete list of Compassionate Allowance conditions: tps://

While Compassionate Allowances can mean a faster disability determination, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries still have to wait five months after their disability onset date to begin receiving benefits and 24 months after their onset date before Medicare benefits kick in.

If you believe your disability claim should be fast tracked under the CAL provisions call or email the disability attorneys at Cuddigan Law without delay. We will give you a free evaluation of your situation. Together we can discuss whether your claim qualifies under Social Security’s Compassionate Allowance regulations.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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