When your Social Security statement arrives in the mail each year it tells you how much money you are eligible for if you become disabled. About 7,563,000 disabled workers received an average monthly benefit of $1,062 in May 2009.
Yet, the application process for Social Security disability payments can be slow and difficult to navigate, sometimes taking months or years to process the claim. However, certain serious medical conditions are fast-tracked through the disability process. In October 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched the Compassionate Allowances initiative to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants with specific severe medical conditions. The SSA maintains a list of 50 debilitating conditions, primarily specific rare diseases and cancers, where disability cases are flagged to be decided within days. Generally a disease must be particularly severe before it qualifies for the Compassionate Allowances initiative, such as bone cancer that has exhibited distant metastases or is inoperable.
The SSA held a hearing this week in Chicago to consider adding early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to the list of conditions fast-tracked through the disability benefit claiming process. “Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is a rapidly progressive and debilitating disease of the brain that affects individuals between the ages of 50 and 65 and clearly deserves our consideration,” says Michael Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “We are now looking to add more diseases and impairments to these expedited processes.”
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