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Alpers Disease and Social Security Disability

Most people who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits will spend at least four months waiting for their application to be reviewed by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. The DDS is the agency which examines disability claims under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) guidelines for a qualifying disability.

For a number of reasons, the DDS finds the majority of applications ineligible for SSDI – about 70 percent. This means most applicants must undergo a second review and may eventually need to attend an appeal hearing, if their claim is denied the second time around. This entire process can take a year or more to complete.

Because people who have very severe disabilities and terminal illnesses don’t have months or years to wait for a decision on their eligibility for SSDI benefits, the SSA developed the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008, which is a process by which the DDS can expedite the review and approval of claims which are based on specific kinds of disabilities.

Currently, there are 113 disabling conditions which are among the SSA’s CAL list, though an additional 52 were recently approved for the list, including Alpers Disease, which will become an active condition in the CAL program as of August 13, 2012. If you’ve received a diagnosis of Alpers Disease, the information that follows may help you understand how the SSA reviews disability claims for the specific condition. The following information will also provide you some guidelines for seeing a quick and smooth approval of disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.

Alpers Disease – Condition and Symptoms

Alpers Disease is known by several other names, including: Progressive Sclerosing Podiodystrophy, Alpers Syndrome, Progressive Infantile Poliodystrophy, and Alpers-Huttenlocher Syndrome or AHS. It is a degenerative central nervous system disease which is most common in infants and children and is caused by genetic mutation.

The first signs of Alpers Disease usually appear after the age of one but before age five and include seizures and severe developmental delays. Other symptoms include mental retardation which gets progressively worse with age, and stiffness and low tone in the muscles, especially in the arms and legs. As the disease progresses, children may become quadriplegics and may experience dementia. Blindness and deafness may occur in the later stages of the disease as well, and liver disease and eventual failure are also common.

More uncommon is the development of Alpers Disease in older children and young adults. When this form of the disease occurs, it is due to mutation in the same gene which causes infantile Alpers Disease. The exact cause of later onset of the disease is unknown, but the general outlook for patients remains the same.

There is currently no cure and no effective treatment for Alpers Disease and no way to slow the progression of the disease either. While anticonvulsant medications may be used to treat seizures, many such medications can contribute to liver failure occurring earlier in the disease’s progressive cycle. Physical therapy can be a means of making patients more comfortable, and indeed, most treatment methods employed with Alpers Disease focus on giving suffers some relief from symptoms.

Alpers Disease is a terminal illness. Most who suffer from it die before the age of ten. Liver failure is the most common cause of death, though some cases lead to cardio/respiratory failure.

More recent medical studies have indicated that Alpers Disease may occur in adults, especially those with intractable epilepsy and encephalopathy, particularly when the liver or other organs are also involved. While there is some argument that Alpers Disease can develop much later in life, not many formal studies have been conducted on the subject.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Alpers Disease

Because Alpers Disease affects infants and children, the most common SSDI claims filed with this diagnosis involve infants, children and more rarely, adolescents. For this reason, claims are usually filed by parents who are seeking benefits for their children. The processes for applying for SSD on behalf of a child is somewhat different than it is for disabled adults. Although the application process varies somewhat, the documentation required for proving a disability is basically the same in any SSDI claim.

Thorough medical records must be presented in any SSDI benefits application, even when the claim is filed for a condition which falls under the CAL program. In other words, a diagnosis of Alpers Disease does not eliminate the medical records requirements of the SSA. In fact, your application should include all medical records, including lab results and other test results as well as statements from the different physicians who’ve treated the condition.

Your Alpers Disease Social Security Disability Case

While Alpers Disease is among the conditions included in the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program, this does not guarantee automatic approval of disability benefits. You must still substantiate the disability by having a well documented case for disability. A Social Security Disability attorney can assist you in putting together your application and getting the appropriate documentation for proving disability.

To learn more about the Social Security Compassionate Allowance listings or to discover whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of Alpers Disease, request a free case evaluation today.