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Social Security and Terminal Illness

Health & Benefits

This article tells how the Compassionate Allowances Initiative (CAL) can provide answers and solutions to Social Security and Terminal Illness. This article was written by the Social Security Administration.

Compassionate Allowances Initiative (CAL)

Social Security has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that their conditions obviously meet disability standards. 

Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security to target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly. Compassionate Allowances is not a separate program from the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs. 

The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative is a way to expedite the processing of SSDI and SSI disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security's definition of disability. It is not a separate program from SSA's two disability programs, SSDI and SSI.

CAL conditions are selected using information received at public outreach hearings, comments received from the Social Security and Disability Determination Services communities, council of medical and scientific experts and research with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

See the Qualifying Conditions list on

Find the answers to Frequently Asked Questions about CAL on