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Additional Diagnoses Added

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, OCN, FAAN
It’s heartbreaking to see patients denied of disability assistance when clearly, their diagnoses and clinical status warrant such assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently added 25 additional medical diagnoses to its Compassionate Allowances Initiative. They include a number of non-cancer as well as cancer or cancer-related diagnoses, including angiosarcoma,
leptomeningeal carcinomatosis
, recurrent or metastatic liposarcoma, malignant ectomesenchymoma, malignant renal rhabdoid tumor, grade III oligodendroglioma brain tumor, prostate cancer  with hormone refractory disease or visceral metastases, recurrent soft tissue sarcoma, and soft tissue sarcoma with distant metastases.

The Compassionate Allowances Initiative expedites the processing of SSDI and SSI disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions clearly meet SSA's definition of disability. SSA considers an individual disabled if he or she cannot perform work previously performed, SSA decides that the person’s work cannot be adjusted to other work because of the medical condition, and the disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

Compassionate Allowances conditions are developed as a result of information received from the public, outreach to advocacy groups, comments received from the Social Security and Disability Determination Service communities, counsel from medical and scientific experts, research with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and information received from past public outreach hearings. Individuals with a applicable condition apply for benefits using the standard SSA process for filing claims for SSDI, SSI, or both SSDI and SSI benefits. SSA expedites the applications of those with a Compassionate Allowances condition. Applications for disability may be filed online, in a local field office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Launched in 2008 with a list of 50 diseases and conditions, the program is aimed at identifying medical diagnoses that clearly meet the statutory standard for disability. When individuals with those diagnoses apply for disability assistance, they receive fast-track review so that they are notified of the final decision within days. The 25 new diagnoses bring the total number on the list to 225. The Compassionate Allowances list, with the 25 new diagnoses in red, is available at
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