Social Security announced this week that it has added 35 more conditions to the compassionate allowances list, or CAL. Social Security fast-tracks disability decisions for people who suffer from these ailments, so they are approved for disability payment within days -- instead of months or years.
Social Security considers the 200 disabilities on this list to be so severe that it doesn't need to fully examine the applicant's work history to make a decision, so this part of the application process is eliminated.
This expedited process not only helps people who suffer from such midlife conditions as adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma or adult onset Huntington's disease -- two new additions to the list -- it also helps people who are dealing with retirement planning while they are caring for a child with one of these problems.
We have friends who are in their 50s whose adult child suffers from a condition that was added to the CAL list this week. At nearly 20 years old, their 6-foot-tall son can't talk and isn't toilet-trained. But the condition isn't life-threatening, so he may live long after they are able to provide care. He qualified for Social Security disability when he reached 18 after a fairly lengthy application process, despite his obvious problems. This week's changes are designed to eliminate that sort of application hassle.
Receiving Social Security for their son means that my friends get financial help that will allow them to plan effectively for their own retirement. At this point, while they are working, they are banking the Social Security payments to create a fund that they can turn into regular annuity payments when they are no longer getting a paycheck and can't afford things like his diapers and other special accommodations.
Social Security is a blessing in so many ways. Let's hope budget cutters take that into account as they struggle with ways to keep the program viable.