For several years, Social Security has had a list of medical conditions that qualify for compassionate allowances. If you have one of these diagnoses and have stopped working, then the SSA has an expedited process to establish disability.
In general, compassionate allowance claims are granted before a disability lawyer ever becomes involved. So it is not something we see that often.
This week I worked with a new client on an initial application for Social Security disability benefits. The gentleman has spinocerebellar ataxia, a degenerative nerve condition which is on the list of SSA compassionate allowances. He cannot perform his past relevant work, and is over the age of 55 (although this should not matter, since he clearly meets listed impairment 11.17A). See how Social Security evaluates disability claims.
This gentleman just stopped work in the past few months, so there is unlikely to be an award of back disability benefits (due to the 5-month waiting period) to support a contingency fee. As a result, my work with him is likely to be pro bono. However, it is an honor to spend time with a person facing progressive loss of function with such understanding and dignity.
I flagged the claim as a compassionate allowance claim when I submitted it to Social Security. I am curious to see how quickly the claim gets granted. I will let you know.
3/31/2014 Update: This compassionate allowance claim was processed immediatey by the Saco Social Security field office, and a claim examiner has already been assigned by DDS. Typically, a claim examiner would be assigned a month or two after filing, not a week. This claim is moving fast.