What Are Compassionate Allowances in Social Security Disability Claims?

Middle aged woman looking at window sadly, contemplating health issues


Navigating the process of filing for Social Security disability benefits can be overwhelming, especially when faced with debilitating medical conditions. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has established a compassionate allowances program to expedite the approval process for individuals with severe medical conditions. Understanding compassionate allowances can streamline the path to receiving essential benefits for those who need them most.

What are Compassionate Allowances?

Compassionate allowances are a provision by the SSA to quickly identify medical conditions that meet their disability standards. These conditions are severe and often terminal, leaving individuals unable to work or perform daily activities. By recognizing the urgent nature of these conditions, the SSA expedites the evaluation process for applicants facing certain health challenges.

Qualifying Conditions

The SSA maintains a comprehensive list of medical conditions that qualify for compassionate allowances. These conditions include various types of cancers, rare diseases, neurological disorders, and other debilitating illnesses. Examples include advanced-stage cancers, early-onset Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), and many others. You can view the complete list of compassionate allowances by clicking here.

How Compassionate Allowances Expedite the Application Process

The traditional process of applying for Social Security disability benefits involves extensive paperwork, medical records, and evaluations, which can take months or even years to complete. However, with compassionate allowances, individuals facing these severe conditions can expect expedited processing of their applications.

Upon identifying a qualifying condition in an applicant's claim, the SSA fast-tracks the review process. This involves prioritizing the application, reducing administrative hurdles, and expediting decisions to ensure deserving individuals receive benefits promptly.

How to Apply

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits under compassionate allowances follows the same initial procedure as a standard application. The applicant needs to complete the necessary forms and provide medical documentation supporting their condition's severity.

It is crucial to ensure all medical records are accurate, up-to-date, and clearly demonstrate the severity of the condition. Additionally, explicitly stating the diagnosed compassionate allowance condition in the application can facilitate faster processing.

Tips for Success

  1. Consult with a Social Security Disability attorney or advocate who has experience with compassionate allowances. Their expertise can help navigate the application process.
  2. Organize and submit all relevant medical documentation. Comprehensive records significantly aid in expediting the review.
  3. Clearly indicate the diagnosed compassionate allowance condition in the application to ensure prompt recognition by the SSA.


Compassionate allowances in Social Security disability claims provide a vital lifeline for individuals battling severe and often terminal medical conditions. Understanding the process and ensuring all necessary documentation is in order can increase the chances of a successful application. By streamlining the approval process, compassionate allowances aim to offer much-needed financial support and stability to those facing significant health challenges.