Social Security Compassionate Allowances Covers Mesothelioma Conditions
The Social Security Administration is making it easier for ill and disabled patients to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The compassionate allowances initiative was announced in October 2008 as a way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s standards. Both pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma are included on the list of 88 qualifying rare diseases and cancers.
Pleural Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer that is almost always caused by asbestos exposure and is most commonly found in the outer lining of the lungs called the mesothelium. Peritoneal mesothelioma, also caused by asbestos exposure, affects the lining of the abdomen. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, it can be treated with varying degrees of success through the use of surgical procedures, chemotherapy and radiation.
Mesothelioma has an extended latency period with symptoms sometimes taking between 20-40 years to appear. By the time the symptoms appear the disease has progressed to an advanced stage, and most patients are unable to work at this point necessitating a need for the early receipt of Social Security benefits.
Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network says “the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances program will help streamline the disability benefits application process so that benefits are quickly provided to those who need them most.”
The SSA held public hearings to gather information from experts on rare diseases and cancers, enlisted the assistance of the National Institutes of Health, and also held public outreach hearings, and received public comments to develop the initial list of 50 conditions comprised of 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers.
This month the SSA added 38 conditions by holding additional public outreach hearings, working closely with the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, and other groups. They also reviewed information gathered from previous hearings and consulted with their internal expert medical staff.
Compassionate allowances will allow the SSA to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. When combined with the agency’s Quick Disability Determination process, close to ten percent of disability claims, or a quarter million cases, could be decided in an average of six to eight days.
Commissioner Astrue said, “I am committed to a process that is as fair and speedy as possible. The launch of Compassionate Allowances is another step to ensuring Americans with disabilities, especially those with certain cancers and rare diseases, get the benefits they need quickly.”
See Compassionate Allowances for a full list of conditions.