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Compassionate Allowance - Adult Onset Huntington Disease

Social Security disability programs such as SSDI, SSI, and Medicare exist so that those with debilitating conditions can continue to have income and medical care when they are deemed to have completely disabling conditions. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must be able to prove that you are disabled to the point that you cannot reasonably be expected to continue in any form of gainful employment.

For most, the claims process takes several months. In some cases, if the initial claim is denied, the process can take longer than a year. The primary reason for the drawn out process is to ensure that those who receive the benefits truly are completely disabled.

The Social Security Administration has long recognized that the length of the disability claims process is problematic, especially for those with terminal or degenerative conditions. Because of this, they began the Compassionate Allowances program in 2008. This program seeks to expedite the process for those whose conditions clearly qualify them as completely disabled.

The SSA began compiling a list of conditions which automatically qualify claimants for Social Security disability benefits. They have steadily added to this list. With the recent addition of 30 conditions, including adult onset Huntington disease, there are currently 201 conditions which can automatically qualify an applicant for disability benefits. If you have been diagnosed with adult onset Huntington disease or one of the other qualifying conditions, your claim will automatically be flagged for a compassionate allowance. In most cases, your claim will be approved in a matter of two to six weeks.

Adult Onset Huntington Disease - Conditions and Symptoms

Huntington disease is a degenerative neurological disorder. Its symptoms tend to become worse with time, eventually rendering the one suffering from the disease incapable of taking care of him/herself. The major symptoms associated with the condition include:

  • Deteriorating motor skills
  • Deteriorating cognitive abilities
  • Behavioral/psychiatric problems
  • Chorea (involuntary movement of hands and/or feet)
  • Degeneration of speech
  • Rigidity
  • Clumsiness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tremors

Huntington’s disease is genetic. Symptoms may show up early in childhood, but in most cases, the first noticeable signs are in a person’s 30s or 40s. As of the time of this writing, there is no cure or treatment for Huntington disease. Treatments currently in use are designed solely for the purpose of managing the symptoms of the disease.

Medical Documentation Adult Onset Huntington Disease

Now that adult onset Huntington’s disease has been approved for listing for Compassionate Allowances, the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits with the condition has become significantly easier. If you have been diagnosed, you no longer have to wonder whether you qualify for disability benefits, nor do you need to worry about going through a drawn out approval process.

You will need to include the information pertinent to your adult onset Huntington’s disease with your claim. This will include your doctor’s diagnosis as well as the basis of that diagnosis. In most cases, this will mean including records of any neurological tests, genetic testing, and brain imaging which were used in making the diagnosis.

Other Medical documentation you will need includes:

  • Neurocognitive testing results
  • Psychological and/or psychiatric testing results
  • Brain imaging if available
  • Doctor’s records showing degenerating conditions consistent with Huntington’s disease
  • Lab tests showing more than 40 repeats of CAG in the HD gene

Getting Help for Your Adult Onset Huntington Disease Disability Claim

Because of the degenerative nature of Huntington’s disease, you should strongly consider having someone represent you when you apply for Social Security disability benefits. Having a Social Security lawyer to help file your claim ensures that the claim will be filed correctly and contain all of the pertinent information which the SSA requires in order to place your claim in the compassionate allowances program so that you can begin receiving your benefits sooner rather than later.