People with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and 37 other medical conditions should get federal disability checks more quickly under an expansion of the Social Security Administration's fast-track system, the agency said Thursday.
Those with a confirmed diagnosis for one of the covered diseases will be approved automatically for disability payments, sidestepping a lengthy process of denials and appeals that such patients often go through. A full five-step application and appeals process currenty averages 440 days.
"If you have a devastating disease that's an awfully long wait," said Social Security Administrator Michael Astrue. "We're focusing on making a decision for people who are clearly entitled to benefits."
The program, called Compassionate Allowances, is aimed at speeding benefits to individuals who can't work due to a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Benefits requirements aren't changed under Compassionate Allowances, but people can start to receive payments more quickly.