SSA Considers Compassionate Allowance for Heart Disease

Heart disease impacts nearly every family; it causes about a quarter of the deaths in America every year. While heart disease (also called cardiovascular disease) receives a great deal of attention as a leading cause of death, some fail to realize that it can also mean severe hardships to those living with high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and other debilitating cardiac illnesses.

In a new initiative, the Social Security Administration ("SSA") is exploring ways to ensure that Americans disabled by heart disease can more quickly access the benefits they deserve.

The Compassionate Allowances Process

The SSA recently held a public hearing focused on cardiovascular disease in both children and adults. Experts on heart disease met with officials to map out possible ways to add some forms of cardiac illnesses to the SSA's list of Compassionate Allowances. Normally, to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD/SSDI) benefits, a candidate has to show that his or her medical condition is "severe."

For an illness to be severe, it must cause a worker the inability to do his or her normal work and prevent the worker from adjusting to other work. For some workers seeking benefits, the process of proving severity can be lengthy and complicated.

However, if a worker is diagnosed with a condition on the Compassionate Allowances list, he or she automatically qualifies as disabled. The list is comprised of diseases deemed so serious that only a minimal amount of objective medical evidence is required to prove the existence of a disability. Placing heart disease on the Compassionate Allowances list could greatly expedite the SSD benefits process for thousands of Americans, and help disabled workers receive benefits far sooner.

A Big Impact

Of course, the public hearing is only one step in adding some cardiovascular diseases to the Compassionate Allowances list; there are still many logistical nuances to sort out in identifying those conditions that are truly disabling. But, with one in three Americans suffering from some form of heart disease, adding an outlet to expedite the process of obtaining Social Security benefits for disabling cardiovascular illnesses could help thousands of Americans every year.