The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance process is a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that clearly qualify for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. It allows the agency to electronically target and make speedy decisions for individuals with specific diseases or conditions who meet qualification criteria.
Effective March 1, 2010, SSA added early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as young onset) to its Compassionate Allowance list. According to the SSA, this action will enable qualified individuals to be approved for disability benefits “in a matter of days, rather than months and years.”
It also added 37 other medical conditions, bringing the list to a total of 88 conditions or diseases. The Compassionate Allowance list now includes these dementia-related illnesses:
While having a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease or one of the other conditions on the list will speed up the application process, it is important to note that:
SSA manages two programs that provide income to people who are unable to work because of a disability: 1) the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and 2) the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides income to disabled individuals under the age of 65 who are considered “insured”—meaning that the disabled individuals, their spouses or parents worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security and, therefore, paid Social Security taxes. Monthly payments are based on the worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security and provide an annual cost of living increase. For people receiving SSA disability benefits, their spouse, divorced spouse and their children (under 18, students, disabled) may also qualify for disability benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides payments to aged (65 or older), blind or disabled individuals who have limited income and resources. This benefit can be applied for once an individual is determined disabled due to a condition such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Payments are based on the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) and a person’s living arrangements, such as living alone or in another person’s household. Some states supplement the federal benefit with an additional monthly payment.
Here are some important things to know about disability benefits versus health care coverage: