A closer look at medical conditions and compassionate allowances

According to the Social Security Administration, a 20-year-old worker has a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age. To qualify to receive Social Security Disability benefits there are certain criteria an applicant must meet. One criterion is that the applicant must have a medical condition that has prevented the applicant from working for 12 months or more or is likely to result in death.

In general, to determine if a medical condition qualifies as a disability under the Social Security Administration’s requirements, the applicant’s doctor will be asked about the applicant’s medical condition, including what the condition is; when it began; how the condition limits the applicant’s activities; what the applicant’s medical tests have revealed; and what treatments the applicant has received. The Social Security Administration agency staff will then determine if the medical condition is severe and if the applicant is not working.

To determine severity, the SSA will determine if the applicant’s medical condition limits work-related activities, such as walking, sitting and remembering, so that the applicant suffers from an inability to work. The SSA staff will also determine if the medical condition is on a List of Impairments which are considered severe medical conditions and may consider other factors.

In addition, there is a category of medical conditions included under the category “Compassionate Allowances.” Because the process of determining disability can take a significant amount of time, certain medical conditions qualify as a compassionate allowance which may expedite the process. According to the SSA, some medical conditions are so serious that they qualify under the list of impairments based on “minimal objective medical information.” The SSA provides a list of compassionate allowances conditions which may allow for more timely processing of a claim for disability benefits designed to help those with serious disabilities receive benefits more quickly.

While there are other factors that are considered, such as work history, in making a determination for Social Security Disability benefits, medical requirements are a primary component for receipt of SSD benefits. Whether through the traditional medical condition process, or through compassionate allowances, it is important that any applicant suffering with a disability understands how to evaluate and pursue the process for receipt of benefits.

Source: SSA.gov, “Compassionate Allowances,” Accessed July 28, 2014