CMD, Form of MM Qualify for Speedy Decision on S.S. Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced today that 38 more diseases have been added to its Compassionate Allowances list, including four forms of congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) and Leigh syndrome, a form of mitochondrial myopathy.

 Applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) who have one of the diseases on the list face a shorter waiting period for decisions on their applications. (For more on these benefits, see below.)  Being on the Compassionate Allowances list does not guarantee that the application will be approved, just that it will be processed more quickly.

The four forms of CMD placed on the list are Fukuyama, merosin deficient, Ullrich and Walker Warburg syndrome.  These conditions join four other diseases covered by MDA that were placed on the Compassionate Allowances list last year: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,Friedreich’s ataxia, infantile-onset Pompe disease and type 1 spinal muscular atrophy.

The Compassionate Allowances list was created last year as a way to speed the disability determination process by allowing the agency to electronically target and make quick decisions for applicants with conditions that are known to be severely debilitating. 

Applicants with any of the conditions on the list should be sure that they mention Compassionate Allowances when applying for Social Security benefits.

In developing the expanded list of conditions, SSA held public hearings and worked closely with the National Institutes of Health, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the National Organization for Rare Disorders and other patient advocacy groups.

The expansion of the Compassionate Allowances distinction to other disorders within MDA’s program is an ongoing process, and SSA’s consideration of other diseases continues.

For more information about the agency’s Compassionate Allowances initiative, read the full press release or visit Also see the 2009 Quest article, Speedier Social Security Benefits for Four Muscle Diseases.

SSDI and SSI definitions

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 

  • Provides monthly income to people who worked in jobs in which they paid Social Security taxes, and who are no longer able to work due to disability.
  • Requires a certain number of “work credits” (based on years of employment and amount earned).
  • Requires that you meet the government definition of disabled.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

  • Provides monthly income to people who never worked, or worked but didn’t pay Social Security taxes, or didn’t work enough in recent years to meet the “work credit” requirements of SSDI.
  • Helps very low-income people who are 65 or older, or are blind or disabled.
  • Requires that savings and assets not exceed $2,000 and that you meet the government definition of “disabled.”
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