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Hallervorden-Spatz Disease and Social Security Disability

The average wait time for an initial application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to be reviewed is three to four months. In some areas, it can take significantly longer. To complicate matters further for those in need of disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies about 70 percent of claims nationwide each year.

Applications are denied for a number of reasons, but the most common is a lack of substantial medical proof of disability. When an application is denied, a second review is required and the applicant must collect additional documentation prior to that review.

If the application is denied a second time, which is not uncommon, an appeal must be filed. The process, from initial application to appeal hearing, can take a year or longer, with some applicants waiting as much as two years for a final determination on their eligibility for benefits.

As severely disabling conditions and terminal illnesses mean applicants don’t have years or even months to wait for SSDI benefits, the SSA developed an alternative and expedited review and approval process for certain medical conditions. The program which governs claims containing one of the pre-approved diagnoses is the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program.

Currently, there are 113 conditions on the CAL list. Fifty-two additional conditions have been approved and will be added to the CAL list on August 13, 2012, including Hallervorden-Spatz Disease.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of Hallervorden-Spatz Disease, the information that follows may help you understand how the SSA reviews disability claims for the specific condition. It will also provide you some guidelines for seeing a quick and smooth approval of disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.

Hallervorden-Spatz Disease – Condition and Symptoms

Hallervorden-Spatz Disease is a rare, inherited movement disorder which usually begins in childhood. Individuals with the condition have a genetic defect which prevents the normal production of a specific protein, pathothenate kinase 2. Because this protein processes iron, patients with Hallervorden-Spatz Disease have iron build up in parts of the brain.

As Hallervorden-Spatz Disease affects the overall condition of the brain, most of the symptoms observed with the condition are neurological in nature. Symptoms can include muscle rigidness and tremors and other movement problems as well as involuntary muscle contractions, seizures and muscle weakness. There can additionally be vision problems which occur with the condition, and in its more advanced stages, many who suffer from Hallervorden-Spatz Disease also develop dementia.

There is a genetic test which can be performed to identify the presence of the defective gene and more quickly arrive at a diagnosis; however, this test is still not widely available. Diagnosis usually requires a range of neurological exams and tests, though the appearance of a cluster of symptoms associated with the disorder often allows for a quicker diagnosis.

There is no specific treatment for Hallervorden-Spatz Disease and there is no cure for the condition. Treatment instead focuses on controlling the symptoms of the disorder. Hallervorden-Spatz Disease is a progressive disorder, worsening over time and causing more and more damage to the nerve cells. Serious complications in the later stages of the disease include blood clots, chronic respiratory infections, and the breakdown of skin tissue. The prognosis is not good for any patient with this condition. The disorder eventually leads to death, often in early adulthood.

Because symptoms can be extensive and there is no single treatment for the disorder, the management of symptoms can be quite involved and complicated. The degree of support patients with Hallervorden-Spatz Disease require varies from one case to the next, but complex care is usually necessary. The SSA realizes this, which is why Hallervorden-Spatz Disease has been approved for expedited claims processing under the provisions of the Compassionate Allowances program.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Hallervorden-Spatz Disease

Because Hallervorden-Spatz Disease usually develops during childhood, the most common SSDI claims filed with this diagnosis will be submitted by parents seeking benefits for their children. The process for applying for SSDI 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 Hallervorden-Spatz Disease does not eliminate the need for medical records. In fact, your application should contain all available medical records. This includes all the examination notes, test details and lab results. There should also be statements from all of the physicians who have treated your child for this condition as well.

Your Hallervorden-Spatz Disease Social Security Disability Case

Although Hallervorden-Spatz Disease is now among the conditions with expedited review procedures under the Compassionate Allowances program of the SSA, filing a claim with the diagnosis doesn’t guarantee approval for disability benefits. You must still substantiate the disability by having a well documented case file and application. A Social Security Disability attorney can assist you in putting together your application and getting the appropriate documentation.

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 Hallervorden-Spatz Disease, request a free case evaluation today.