Social Security Adds 38 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions, Including Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced that Starting March 1, 2010, Social Security is adding 38 more conditions to its list of Compassionate Allowances. This is the first expansion since the original list of 50 conditions – 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers – was announced in October 2008. The new conditions range from adult brain disorders, such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and rare diseases that primarily affect children. The complete list of the new Compassionate Allowance conditions is available if you click here.

“The addition of these new conditions expands the scope of Compassionate Allowances to a broader subgroup of conditions like early-onset Alzheimer’s disease,” Commissioner Astrue said. “The expansion we are announcing today means tens of thousands of Americans with devastating disabilities will now get approved for benefits in a matter of days rather than months and years.”

Compassionate Allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that clearly qualify for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. It allows Social Security to electronically target and make speedy decisions for the most obviously disabled individuals. In developing the expanded list of conditions, Social Security held public hearings and worked closely with the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, and other groups.

“The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s indicates significant cognitive impairment that interferes with daily living activities, including the ability to work,” said Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Now, individuals who are dealing with the enormous challenges of Alzheimer’s won’t also have to endure the financial and emotional toll of a long disability decision process.”

“We will continue to hold hearings and look for other diseases and conditions that can be added to our list of Compassionate Allowances,” Commissioner Astrue said. “There can be no higher priority than getting disability benefits quickly to those Americans with these severe and life-threatening conditions.”