(Transcript)

Cindy Speaker:  Good afternoon everyone, and thanks for being with us today. My name is Cindy Speaker. I have with me today, Attorney Winslow Butts of Gardberg & Kemmerly. Winslow, it’s always great to see you. How are you?

Winslow Butts:  Good to see you. Thank you for having me, it’s good to be here.

Cindy Speaker: Good to have you here. You always give us great information, I appreciate that. I just want to mention, I was telling you that I’ve looked over your bio and I really, I really love all the type of work that you’ve done. You’ve advocated for people dealing with domestic violence, other types of things. What I love about Gardberg & Kemmerly, and you’re so … You epitomize it is, your firm, everybody that works in your firm cares deeply. Just care.

Winslow Butts: Right.

Cindy Speaker:  It’s very genuine. I’ve worked with you-

Winslow Butts:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cindy Speaker:  … Talked with you over the years, gotten to know everybody in your firm, and they’re people that care deeply and I appreciate that. I know that what you’re going to tell me truly comes from the heart, you want to get the word out ’cause you want to help people.

Winslow Butts: Right, we do. Yeah, we’re here to help the people that are usually less fortunate than us, that possibly do not know what they’re eligible for, or what benefits are out there.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah. Well, we’re going to talk about Compassionate Allowances Program. Why don’t you explain to us what this program is, and tell us a little bit about it?

Winslow Butts:  The Compassionate Allowances Program was developed by social security for the people that have these really rare, aggressive illnesses that would obviously meet the disability requirements. It was developed in order for them to kind of speed up that system. Instead of getting benefits in months, it potentially could only take days or weeks.

Cindy Speaker: Wow.

Winslow Butts: It’s an expedited program for people with very serious illnesses.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay. What kind of proof is needed, how would they go about applying?

Winslow Butts: Since the process is expedited, they really just need proof that they have the disease, or the cancer, or the illness that’s required in the list. I believe there’s over 100 different illnesses that qualify.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

Winslow Butts: They just need to have proof from their doctor that they do qualify for that, and they should get their benefits started pretty quickly.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay. Share with us some of those conditions that may qualify for this benefit.

Winslow Butts:  Some of them, the more aggressive cancers such as brain cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, also ALS, Huntington’s Disease, or even just needing a heart transplant. All of those qualify for the Compassionate Allowances Program.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay. You mentioned this could happen very quickly.

Winslow Butts:   It could. Normally when people apply for social security and disability, it can take months ’cause they have to get your work history-

Cindy Speaker: Right.

Winslow Butts:  … They have to get records from your doctors. This is supposed to expedite the process, you just have to show that you have the illness-

Cindy Speaker:   Okay.

Winslow Butts: … And then, social security can get you the benefits that you need, so that way you can focus on treatment.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

Winslow Butts: Not to have focus on waiting to get your benefits started.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah, yeah. Another question is, how do people, what do you find … Do you find that people are aware of this program, or how do you make people aware of this program?

Winslow Butts:  Most people are not aware of the program. Social security is supposed to catch that if somebody has this illness, they’re supposed to see it. But, I would just tell people to go and look at our website-

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah.

Winslow Butts:  … And, look at the list of illnesses that do qualify.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

Winslow Butts:   That way if they do have one of them, they’ll know that they fit under that. Or, call us and ask us-

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah.

Winslow Butts:    … If they have one of the illnesses that is on the Compassionate Allowances List, so that their case might be expedited.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay. What can you do to help them, how can you assist with this process? Because, as you said, these are serious illnesses. They really cannot be all involved with a lot of paperwork here.

Winslow Butts:  Right. We can get their medical records, we can communicate with social security, we can-

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

Winslow Butts:   … Kind of take all the steps that they need to do, and do it for them. That way they can be focusing on treatment while-

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

Winslow Butts:  … We can focus on getting a letter from their Doctor, or contacting social security, just to make it easier for them to navigate the process.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

Winslow Butts: And, hopefully the process will also be faster.

Cindy Speaker: Excellent, excellent. Well as I said, as I’ve said before, if somebody is watching. You know someone in this condition, and I have a friend that has cancer right now. Some of these illnesses may qualify for this. It’s important to get the word out on that, because having benefits is very helpful, as you know. I mean, tell us what do you see when someone has a serious illness, what happens in terms of their ability to make any kind of an income?

Winslow Butts: Right, ’cause when somebody gets diagnosed with an illness like that, the first thing they do is they stop working.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

Winslow Butts: They don’t have, most of the time you have to travel, you have to pay for your Doctor’s visits, for your medication. At least if you do qualify for this program, it gets your benefits started. That way you don’t have to worry about the financial aspect, you just have to worry on getting better-

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

Winslow Butts:  … And healing, so that you can return to the workforce one day.

Cindy Speaker:   Right, right. Winslow, thanks for this information, very valuable.

Winslow Butts:  You’re very, very welcome. Thank you for having me.

Cindy Speaker:  Oh yeah. To those of you watching, if you have questions or comments, you can leave them on this page. Winslow, before we go, tell us what’s the best way for someone to reach you if they do want to ask you a question, or get you involved in helping?

Winslow Butts:  You can reach us at our website, it’s GardbergLaw.com, or you can call us at 251-343-1111.

Cindy Speaker:  Very good. Thanks everybody, have a great day. Bye now.

 

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