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Social Security program accelerates disability applications

Many in Ohio struggle to receive the Social Security disability benefits they are entitled to. The process can often be lengthy and cumbersome. The time frame can be longer than people would like, but with an initiative started by the current Social Security commissioner, applicants with certain conditions can see their approval expedited.

Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is one of these conditions. Listed under the Compassionate Allowances provision, ALS is one of more than 100 conditions that allow for Social Security disability applications to be considered and approved at a faster pace. According to estimates, more than 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year.

The Compassionate Allowances program was a top priority for the current commissioner, who took his post in 2007. A year later, the program was put into action. According to an official with the Social Security Administration, the list of Compassionate Allowances is developed using information received from scientific experts, researchers with the National Institutes of Health, the disability community and comments at public outreach hearings.

Designed to accelerate certain applications, the Compassionate Allowances program identifies the nature of the applicant's condition and determines if that nature meets the statutory standard for disability. They are then considered and, if approved, disability benefits are awarded.

If you would like to see all of the Compassionate Allowances, the Social Security Administration has the entire list on its website. And while this is a good step forward, all applicants need to receive their benefits faster than they currently are. More work remains.

Source: Central Wisconsin Business, "Ken Hess column: Faster disability approval for people with ALS," Ken Hess, May 17, 2012

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