Thursday, September 29, 2011

Conditions on SSA "Compassionate Allowance" List Get Quicker Decisions

Social Security added 12 new medical conditions to the list of "Compassionate Allowance" or "CAL" conditions in July 2011. This brings the number of Compassionate Allowance conditions to 100. Claims based on conditions in the CAL list are decided more quickly.
According to SSA, "the [CAL] initiative is designed to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal, but sufficient, objective medical information.
"If the condition does not meet these strict criteria, it will not be designated as a CAL case.
"All CAL-identified conditions are entered into the Predictive Model (PM) and are selected for CAL processing based solely on the claimant’s allegations listed on the SSA-3368 (Disability Report—Adult) or SSA-3820—(Disability Report—Child). Like Quick Disability Determinations (QDD), CAL cases will receive expedited processing within the context of the existing disability determination process." Program Operation Manual System (POMS) DI 23022.015
Go to for a list of conditions qualifying for CAL 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Flake in the Blizzard of Recent Attacks on SSDI

Dear Mr. Cavuto, I heard part of your interview with Dan Mitchell of the CATO Institute this afternoon. From hearing that segment I can say that Mr. Mitchell needs to do some homework on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

He expressed the view that only a "handful" of people genuinely qualify for SSDI benefits; that there is a cadre of doctors who grant disability benefits to people for pay; and that many people don't deserve benefits because the program was designed to compensate people who have serious injuries like the loss of a leg in an industrial accident.

I am well aware of major defects in the SSDI program, having practiced disability law since 1983. The flaws I heard Mr. Mitchell describe are not prevalent.

The prevalent defects of SSDI include:

o Many people lack adequate medical care and therefore can't establish whether or not they meet the medical requirements;

o Difficulty obtaining specific medical documentation for Social Security causes many disabled people to struggle 2 or 3 years for benefits while their health declines.

Also, a large part of the public misunderstands the SSDI program:

o Many people like Mr. Mitchell think doctors grant or deny disability benefits, though doctors only furnish evidence that may/may not lead Social Security to grant benefits;

o Many people like Mr. Mitchell confuse state workers' compensation with federal SSDI. Workers' compensation is the primary compensation system for people injured by industrial accidents. SSDI is primary for everyone else. Confusing the two often causes flaws of workers' compensation to be attributed to SSDI.

There is a crisis in SSDI, which Congress has ignored and disguised over the years by shifting money to SSDI from the Social Security retirement fund, instead of instituting fundamental reform.

Rather than swinging in the dark, people like Mr. Mitchell should do their homework and attack the real flaws in SSDI. These flaws can misdirect scarce benefits to less severely disabled people and make thousands of severely disabled individuals wait years for benefits they need, deserve and paid for with mandatory deductions from their paychecks throughout their working lives.

Sincerely, Doug Smith, publisher, Disability Workbook for Social Security Applicants
August 23,2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Starting a Social Security disability insurance claim

This succinct description of the forms needed to start a disability insurance claim appeared in the Modesto Bee on January 24, 2011. The text was furnished to the paper by the SSA.

"Q: What is the difference between the disability application and the disability report? Do I have to complete both?

"A: A disability application is a claim for Social Security disability benefits. A disability report provides information about your current physical or mental condition that we need to process your disability application. To establish a claim for disability benefits, you need to file a disability application, submit a disability report, and provide an authorization to release medical records. The best place to start is at"

Disability Facts does not, however, agree that the best place to start a claim is on the Internet, for the reasons stated in our post of December 16, 2010. We think an SSA office is the best place to start a claim, and the runner-up method is by telephone and mail.