Even seriously disabled applicants may need an attorney

The Social Security Administration has a comprehensive listing of physical and mental impairments in a publication called the Blue Book. However, the SSA also recognizes that certain impairments are so serious that they almost inevitably qualify for Social Security disability insurance assistance. Those conditions, identified with the assistance of several groups based on objective medical criteria, are called Compassionate Allowances.

Readers might assume that only cancers appear on the Compassionate Allowances listing. However, based on last week’s press release by Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin, new additions bring the list up to 225 different conditions. Autoimmune and neurological disorders appear on the list, including early onset Alzheimer’s. The new Compassionate Allowances listing now includes prostate cancer.

Readers of this blog know that the SSA’s definition of disability may not always agree with a medical diagnosis or health professional’s opinion. As with other impairments, the determination of what conditions qualify as Compassionate Allowances is not automatic. In this case, SSA officials solicited comments from advocacy groups, medical experts, personnel at the National Institutes of Health, and even the public through public outreach hearings.

Applicants with a Compassionate Allowances condition could still benefit from the assistance of an attorney, however. Care should be taken to include a medical diagnosis that matches the SSA’s wording. In that regard, an attorney can work to include documentation and medical reports that will be easily recognizable by the SSA’s disability examiners. When an individual has a serious condition, time is of the essence. An attorney can help applicants prepare a strong claim, hopefully obtaining success on the first try.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Social Security Announces New Compassionate Allowances Conditions,” Jan. 15, 2014