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How does SSA expedite SSDI benefits for Tennesseans?

Many people in Chattanooga, Tennessee, rely on Social Security benefits at some stage of their life. In order to receive benefits, people pay social security taxes, which later benefit them upon retirement, or in the event of disabilities or illness. In return, the Social Security Administration is obligated to provide benefits to those individuals whose health meets the disability standards set by SSA.

The SSA's Compassionate Allowance initiative identifies diseases that they are clear cases of impairment based on minimal objective medical information. By doing this, SSA identifies the most obviously disabled individuals entitled to allowances, based the findings. It is important to note that the findings are not separate from programs, such as Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

The process for identifying the medical conditions involves gathering information from public outreach hearings, information collected from the Social Security and Disability Determination Services communities, consultations with experts in the field of medicine, and science and research conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.

At present, the SSA has seven public outreach hearings which address rare diseases, cancers, traumatic brain injuries, heart stroke, dementia, heart diseases, multiple organ transplants and autoimmune diseases. Additionally, there are ongoing programs and initiatives that continue to identify new medical conditions that should be a part of the SSDI benefits.

People who wish to file for SSI or SSDI benefits under the compassionate allowance initiative need to do so by using the same form that is used for the usual SSI or SSDI application. The SSA reviews the form and expedites the cases that qualify. The decision is usually given to an applicant within a few weeks, taking into consideration the urgency of the situation and the severity of the medical condition.

Source: SSA.gov, "Compassionate Allowances Frequently Asked Questions," accessed on Feb. 4, 2015

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