Compassionate Allowance Program has a Big Heart

Today’s Washington Post reports:

Diane Braunstein’s large smile and warm laugh can be infectious. She speaks calmly as she sits in a high-backed, dark wooden chair in her spacious Baltimore office, a master bureaucrat.

If that seems a cold or callous characterization, her actions have been anything but. One look at her résumé shows she’s spent a lifetime mastering the minutia of process and regulation on behalf of the elderly, the ill and the disabled at the Social Security Administration and other organizations. Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue appointed Braunstein director of a program called Compassionate Allow­ances in 2007 after she helped him about 20 years earlier when his terminally ill father could not quickly obtain benefits.

The two were working together at the Department of Health and Human Services. Astrue’s father developed glioblastoma, an often-fatal brain cancer that resulted in a coma. Astrue found himself trying to file for benefits on behalf of someone who wasn’t able to speak.

“It was a huge surprise and a time of high anxiety,” he said. “Having someone as competent as Diane was a great blessing.” See story here: