Compassionate Allowances in Social Security Disability

There is a list of conditions which Social Security has deemed “Compassionate Allowances” and almost always results in an award of Social Security Disability benefits. This list of conditions is as close as Social Security comes to a guaranteed award of benefits based on diagnosis alone. The list includes many forms of cancer including acute leukemia, esophageal, gallbladder, liver and pancreatic. It also includes diagnoses of ALS, early-onset Alzheimer’s and Leigh’s Disease. The conditions identified as Compassionate Allowances are conditions that are not expected to improve, even with aggressive treatment.

In March 2011, the Social Security Administration held a hearing to hear information about autoimmune diseases, their symptoms, how they are diagnosed and how they affect the lives of the individuals suffering from these diseases. There are over 100 autoimmune diseases but some of the more familiar names are Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and Sjogren’s syndrome.

Autoimmune diseases are caused by the body’s response to its own tissue, cells and organs, and has been described as some as a war within the body against the body. Many people with autoimmune diseases suffer from more than one. The information provided at the March hearing will be analyzed to set forth guidelines for an adjudicator with no medical training to can look for that would almost guarantee a disability. Autoimmune diseases are characterized by extreme fatigue and generally affects multiple organs, such as pulmonary and digestive disorders together.

Autoimmune diseases are still grossly under-researched and misunderstood. Diagnoses made by specialists are more reliable than those made by a general practitioner. While autoimmune diseases have not officially been added to the list of Compassionate Allowances, we are moving in the right direction to recognize the severity, intensity and disabling nature of these conditions. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that has forced you out of the workforce, contact an attorney to assist with your disability application.


Attorney Jennifer J. Allen is an associate attorney with Alan C. Olson & Associates, S.C. If you have any questions about Social Security Disability, please contact her at [email protected].


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