Social Security’s Compassionate Allowances Speed
Disability Decision for Desperate Americans
Switching between government non-Social Security
employment and that covered by Social Security gets complicated
March 8, 2014 – Many of us who depend on Social
Security for helping fund our retirement may forget it also plays a
critical role for U.S. citizens who become disabled and are forced into
retiring before they are old enough to collect normal benefits. The
Social Security Q&A this week answers a question from someone desperate
for this help. The column also addresses a frequent concern of those who
switch back and forth in work situations not always contributing to
Social Security – it gets complicated.
My husband was recently diagnosed with cancer.
We are completing his disability application at this time, but we are
discouraged with how long it takes to find out if he qualifies. Does
Social Security make any special consideration based on the illness?
Yes. To help expedite the
disability process, we recently announced the addition of 25 new
Compassionate Allowances conditions. These new conditions include twelve
cancers, such as prostate cancer, as well as disorders that affect the
digestive, neurological, immune, and multiple body systems.
The Compassionate Allowances
program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most
serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions
within days instead of months. By incorporating cutting-edge technology,
the agency can identify potential Compassionate Allowances and quickly
To date, we have approved almost
200,000 people with severe disabilities through this fast-track
“We are dedicated to providing
vulnerable Americans with faster access to disability benefits through
our Compassionate Allowances program,” Acting Commissioner Carolyn W.
Colvin said recently.
“Social Security disability
benefits are a vital lifeline for individuals who are facing severe
diseases and we must ensure that they receive the benefits they rightly
I earned Social Security credits before I
started working in a non-Social Security paying government career. I
have returned to work in the private sector since my government
retirement in 2010, and I pay into Social Security. Will Social Security
count my early credits along with the ones I am currently earning?
Yes, your previous credits will count with the ones
that you have earned since you retired in 2010. If you complete your 40
credits, you will receive a Social Security retirement benefit, but it
will be figured using a modified formula.
This reduction is applied to your Social Security
retirement because you did not pay into Social Security through your
government employment. This law is known as the Windfall Elimination
Another issue is how your government pension will
affect any benefits you can receive on your spouse's record. This law is
called the Government Pension Offset. It may not permit you to receive
any benefits on your spouse's record. This is because an amount equal
to two-thirds of your monthly government retirement is counted against
any benefit you can receive as a spouse.
Sometimes this two-thirds offset is greater than
what you can receive as a spouse. When that happens, the benefit is not
payable. This increases the importance of earning your 40 credits. You
can read more about these laws at www.ssa.gov/gpo-wep/.
Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with
the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him
at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can
also email him at Oscar.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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