On August 16, 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) added 12 new medical conditions to its Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program. The program identifies serious medical conditions that meet the standards for disability benefits.
Pericardial mesothelioma was one of the 12 diseases added to the Compassionate Allowances program. With this new change, patients with this form of mesothelioma may receive disability benefits sooner. This could help many mesothelioma patients cover the cost of treatments and other related expenses.
Compassionate Allowances Initiative
In 2008, the SSA launched the Compassionate Allowances initiative. This program identifies severe medical conditions that meet the standards for disability benefits. In doing so, the agency is able to speed up the approval process for certain individuals to receive disability benefits.
“Everyone who is eligible for benefits under the programs we administer should receive them. Our Compassionate Allowances program helps us address barriers by helping accelerate the disability application process for people who are likely to get approved for benefits due to the severity of their medical condition.”
Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
Individuals with Compassionate Allowances conditions may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The medical requirements for both programs are the same.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
The SSDI program provides financial benefits to individuals and certain family members who are “insured.” “Insured” individuals worked long enough, recently enough and paid Social Security taxes on their income.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The SSI program provides financial benefits to individuals with disabilities who have limited income and resources.
The fast-track nature of the program may shorten the approval process for SSDI from several months to multiple days. However, this may not accelerate the payment process. SSDI payments are issued five months from the date a disability presents itself. The SSA determines this date based on medical evidence provided by applicants.
Approved patients do not have to wait for SSI payments.
As of August 2021, the program covers 254 medical conditions. This list includes aggressive cancers, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and rare genetic disorders.
Since its creation, more than 700,000 individuals have been approved for benefits through the program.
Mesothelioma and the Compassionate Allowances Initiative
Pericardial mesothelioma is not the first type of mesothelioma included on the program’s conditions list. Prior to the August 2021 update, peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma were both on the list. The SSA also added desmoplastic mesothelioma to the list in the August update. Desmoplastic mesothelioma is a very rare form of the cancer.
Patients do not need to apply specifically for the Compassionate Allowances program. The SSA uses screening software to identify applications with qualifying conditions for the program.
Financial Benefits and Compensation for Mesothelioma Patients
Through the SSDI and SSI programs, mesothelioma patients can receive important financial benefits. This compensation can help patients handle a variety of cancer-related costs, including:
- End-of-life care
- Loss of income
- Medical bills for physical and mental health treatments
- Travel costs
Apart from disability benefits, mesothelioma patients may have other avenues for compensation.
For example, a patient whose cancer stems from occupational asbestos exposure may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit or an asbestos trust fund claim to receive compensation. Military veterans with mesothelioma may also be eligible for help through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Compensation through any of these avenues can help mesothelioma patients receive necessary care and treatment. In many cases, it can also provide assistance to a patient’s loved ones after a patient passes away.