Social Security Compassionate Allowances

Social Security Administration Compassionate Allowances Program

During his tenure as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), Michael Astrue initiated the Compassionate Allowances Program in 2008.  The program identifies a number of serious medical conditions that automatically qualify an applicant for disability, in order to provide help for the most severely disabled applicants soonest.

Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow SSA to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that they can obtain quickly.

The program ensures only a fast review of your case. In addition to evaluating the medical information, the SSA considers income eligibility and insurance before any claim is approved. Having a listed condition or disease drastically improves the chances of approval, but there are no guarantees.

The initial list of Compassionate Allowances conditions was compiled after a series of public outreach hearings, extensive research, and input from the public.  Sissi Langford testified in one of the early hearings about the issues involved with securing services and benefits for Joe and Maggie (MPS IIIA).  Ernie Dummann, the Society’s president during that time, and Barbara Wedehase met with representatives of the CAL while in DC to promote adding the MPS diseases to the list of approved diseases.  In 2010 Hurler type 1H, Hunter type II and Sanfilippo syndromes were added.  During a second meeting Ernie and Barbara provided documentation for a change of nomenclature to MPS I, MPS II, and MPS III.  This allowed for an expansion within MPS I and MPS II, so as to include all individuals with those diseases, not just those with the most severe disease.  In 2012 I-Cell was added.

Commissioner Astrue’s six year term expired in January 2013. NORD sent a letter to the Acting Commissioner cosigned by 60 member organizations, including the National MPS Society, asking for her continued support of the CAL program. On August 12, Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the SSA replied, “I appreciate your proactive approach and want to assure you that the CAL initiative has my full support. We remain dedicated to expediting service to the most severely disabled Americans. Our fast-track initiatives, including CAL, exemplify our continued commitment to this goal.” In er letter, Acting Commissioner Colvin says SSA will continue to work on identifying more conditions that meet the CAL criteria and are scheduling the next release of additional conditions for the end of this calendar year.

A complete list of all approved Compassionate Allowances conditions is on the SSA website, 

The National MPS Society will continue to advocate for those of our diseases not on the list to be added.