If you know someone who has gone through the process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you have likely heard horror stories of how slow and bureaucratic the process can be. Obtaining approval for benefits can take numerous appeals and additional paperwork. And even when benefits are approved, many recipients must wait five months before receiving their first payment.
Thankfully, exceptions have been made for people suffering from diseases known to result in rapid degeneration and eventual death. This is called the “compassionate allowances” list, and there are currently about 242 conditions listed on it. Thanks to a recently enacted law, the newest disease to receive special treatment by the Social Security Administration is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Recognizing the grim prognosis of ALS
ALS is degenerative because it destroys a person’s motor neurons. Over time, victims lose control of their bodies, often starting with limb movements. As the disease progresses, they typically lose speech and, eventually, their ability to breathe.
There is not yet a cure for ALS, and most patients die within two to five years after diagnosis. For these reasons and more, ALS patients cannot afford any delay in benefits that could help them and their families cope financially.
Thankfully, after years of lobbying efforts, congress finally passed a bill doing away with the five-month waiting period for SSD beneficiaries who have ALS. The bill also grants immediate access to Medicare coverage for ALS patients who have been approved for SSD.
Do you qualify for a compassionate allowance?
ALS is (thankfully) a rare disorder, so this new law will not impact a large number of people who require SSD benefits. However, if you have been diagnosed with a different debilitating disease and will soon lose the ability to work, your illness may already be included on the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances list. If so, you will likely have a much easier time getting approved for disability benefits.
An attorney can provide much-needed assistance
Getting approval for SSD benefits should be must faster and easier than it is. Unfortunately, each of us must work within the system as it currently functions. That being said, many applicants find that it is much easier and less frustrating to seek SSD benefits with the help of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. A skilled attorney can help you put together a strong application, with supporting paperwork, and ensure that you are not slowed down by omissions or errors in your submitted documents.