Some Social Security disability conditions get priority treatmentby Denise Early on Jan. 14, 2013, under Health
Social Security identifies 200 serious health conditions that receive Compassionate Allowances when people apply for Social Security disability benefits. The Compassionate Allowances program fast-tracks disability decisions to ensure that Americans with the most serious disabilities receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months – or years. These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children.
By definition, these conditions are so severe that Social Security does not need to fully develop the applicant’s work history to make a decision. As a result, Social Security eliminated this part of the application process for people who have a condition on the list.
The full list of diseases and conditions that get fast-track disability decisions can be found here: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm
This is good news for people who have been newly diagnosed with one of the 200 seriously illnesses on the list. The bad news is that most of these people will have to wait 24 months before they get Medicare. In the meantime, if they have lost their health insurance because they can’t work, they are out of luck. They could use COBRA for 18 months (or more) – if they can afford the high price that comes with paying the full cost of their employer health insurance.
When their COBRA runs out, they could take advantage the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which says people who have had health insurance without a break must be provided one or two coverage options by every health insurance company. This sounds awesome except that insurance companies are allowed to charge these people outrageous premiums. Insurance companies take the highest premium for the person’s age and triple it. The person with a pre-existing condition can take it or leave it. Anyone above 50 years old will likely pay $1,000, $1,500, or more per month if they take a HIPAA policy. This is very bad news for people who are too sick to work and cannot afford such outrageous premiums.
Of course, all this changes one year from now – and that is good news.