New Additions to the Compassionate Allowance List
On August 20, 2018, the SSA added five conditions to the Compassionate Allowance List (CAL). With these new additions, the CAL now includes 233 conditions.
The CAL helps the SSA identify conditions that automatically meet the criteria for disability benefits. One of the major benefits of the CAL is that it significantly reduces waiting times for claimants who suffer from conditions on the list. The SSA uses the CAL to evaluate claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as well as those for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The new additions to the CAL are:
-Megacystis Microcolon Intestinal Hypoperistalsis Syndrome
-Megalencephaly-Capillary Malformation Syndrome
-Superficial Siderosis of the Central Nervous System
The CAL is available here: https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm.
Judicial Conference Recommends Changing How Cases are Titled
On May 1, 2018, the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on Court Administration and Case Management issued a memorandum to chief justices and clerks of federal district and circuit courts. The subject of the memorandum was the manner in which immigration and Social Security cases are titled.
In the memorandum, the Committee recommended that Social Security and immigration cases be titled using the first name and last initial of non-governmental parties when issuing opinions.
Certain information, such as Social Security numbers, complete names of minor children, and dates of birth, is required to be redacted, according to federal rules of criminal and civil procedure, and the memorandum notes this.
The Committee believes that altering the way in which parties are identified in official court documentation is a means of protecting the privacy of those involved in federal court litigation on Social Security and immigration issues.
Each court will have the authority to decide whether or not to adopt the Committee’s recommendation.
Attorney Advisor Program Here to Stay
In 1995, the SSA began an Attorney Advisor (AA) program. The program allowed specially appointed Attorney Advisors (AAs) to develop case files, hold pre-hearing conferences, and issue fully favorable on the record (OTR) decisions without the need for an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. The AA program was initially designed to last two years, but has been periodically renewed ever since, with the current iteration scheduled to expire in August of 2019.
On August 15, 2018, the SSA made the AA program permanent.
AAs play an important role in the SSA’s backlog-reduction plan. The Compassionate and Responsive Service (CARES) program allows AAs to conduct pre-hearing conferences with unrepresented claimants and educate them about their rights and the hearing process. These conferences sometimes result in fully favorable OTR decisions by AAs or ALJs. If an OTR decision is not appropriate, the case will not lose its place in line, and will remain scheduled for a hearing.
For the bulk of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, many AAs have been temporarily redirected from their normal duties to help the SSA chip away at the backlog of cases that required post-hearing written decisions. With the backlogs finally decreasing, the SSA has announced that it intends to send some of the AAs back to their normal duties.