SSA Considers Fast-Tracking Heart Disease-Related Disability Claims

In our current Social Security system, children and adults who have developed disabilities as a result of cardiovascular disease may have to wait months or longer before they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Recognizing the importance of expediting the process for these individuals, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently held a Compassionate Allowances public outreach hearing to explore ways the agency can evaluate claims for SSDI and SSI benefits for those who have heart disease-related disabilities.

SSA held the public hearing to determine whether certain subsets or diagnoses of cardiovascular disease should be included on the agency's Compassionate Allowance Condition List. Listing a condition on the Compassionate Allowances list streamlines review of the benefits application, making it faster for disabled applicants to receive benefits.

What is a Compassionate Allowance?

The Compassionate Allowance Condition List was first introduced by the SSA in 2008. The list includes more than 88 conditions and diseases that have been identified as being serious enough to warrant preapproval as a qualifying disability. This means that those who have one of the conditions on the list need only to provide minimal medical evidence of the disability in order to obtain benefits. They also are able to bypass the traditional application process in exchange for a fast-track procedure, which could result in them receiving benefits within several weeks of their initial application, rather than in several months.

Some of the conditions currently on the Compassionate Allowance list include most types of cancers, early-onset Alzheimer's disease, Rett syndrome and Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome).

What is the Purpose of a Public Outreach Hearing?

Public outreach hearings are one of the principal means the SSA uses to expand the types of conditions and diseases receiving Compassionate Allowance designation. So far, the agency has held six hearings, covering traumatic brain injuries and stroke, schizophrenia, cancers and other rare diseases.

How Would this Designation Affect Social Security Disability Applicants with Heart-Related Conditions?

Adding certain heart conditions to the Compassionate Allowance Condition List would remove a significant obstacle for affected individuals seeking SSDI/SSI benefits. People with heart conditions filing for disability benefits often face a lot of resistance to their claims, particularly from insurance companies. It can be difficult for claimants to receive the medical documentation they need to prove they have a disabling heart condition because many of the conditions and symptoms of the disease are subjective, and some insurers may argue that the claimant can return to work and does not require disability benefits.

The American Heart Association estimates that one in three Americans have heart disease. If you suffer from cardiovascular disease or another heart ailment that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to federal disability benefits. For more information, contact an attorney experienced in handling Social Security Disability claims.