Many Tennessee residents and people across the country who suffer from chronic and debilitating conditions rely on Social Security Disability benefits to survive. According to the Social Security Administration, 8.8 million SSDI recipients received disability benefits at the end of 2013. However, there are still many people waiting to be approved for benefits through the arduous application process.

An article published in the Washington Post claimed that the backlog for approving Social Security Disability applications has reached over 990,000. SSDI applications may take months or years to be approved in certain cases. For some people who suffer from fast-paced terminal diseases, the approval may come too late.

What is the Compassionate Allowances Program?

The Compassionate Allowances Program was designed to expedite the SSDI applications of people who suffer from obvious disabilities, which are included on the SSA’s List of Impairments. Currently, the list is comprised of 225 conditions, after 25 new conditions were added to the list earlier this year. Conditions range from digestive, immune and neurological disorders, to various cancers and conditions that affect multiple body systems. Angiosarcoma, prostate cancer and soft tissue sarcoma are just a few of the conditions that were recently added to the SSA’s list of impairments. The Social Security Administration selects which conditions to add to the list through comprehensive research and a host of public outreach hearings.

According to the SSA, approximately 200,000 people have been approved through the Compassionate Allowances Program so far, some of whom would have surely died waiting for benefits through the regular SSDI application process.

The application process

When applying for SSDI benefits, people can submit their application to a local SSA office or online. The SSA will determine whether the applicant has a condition that is approved under the Compassionate Allowances Program. SSA representatives will then obtain applicants’ medical information by contacting their health care professionals. In some cases, an examination may be required to affirm that the condition exists.

The entire effort is made possible as medical professionals, government officials, citizens and advocacy groups work together to meet the needs of severely disabled people. Ultimately, the applicant will receive an approval or denial within several weeks of submitting their request for benefits.

How an attorney can help

The Social Security Disability application can be extremely overwhelming to complete, especially when the smallest error could lead to a delayed approval. Not only can an established attorney help you fill out your application correctly the first time, but they can walk you through every step of the SSDI process, providing essential legal counsel along the way.