For a variety of reasons, including insufficient documentation from applicants and issues with funding and staffing with the Social Security Administration (SSA), the average application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits takes at least three months for the initial review to be completed. Also for a range of reasons, the majority (about 70%) of SSD claims are denied. This means most applicants must go through a second review and potentially an appeal before they receive a final determination on their eligibility for benefits. All in all, the entire process can take anywhere from several months to more than two years.
Those who have terminal illnesses and very severe disabilities don’t have that long to wait for benefits. The SSA understands this, and in response, developed the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008 to more quickly and efficiently address the applications for those who clearly suffer from terminal illnesses and inherently disabling conditions.
At the present time, there are 113 conditions on the SSA’s CAL list. Come August, another 52 will become active on that list, including Hepatoblastoma.
If you’ve received a diagnosis of Hepatoblastoma, the following information will help you understand the SSA’s disability claims process for this diagnosis. It will also give you some guidelines for increasing your chances of being quickly approved for disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.
Hepatoblastoma – Condition and Symptoms
Hepatoblastoma is an exceptionally rare form of liver cancer that affects only one in every 1.5 million. It is most common in infants, but can occur in young children as well, usually being discovered before the age of three.
At greatest risk of developing Hepatoblastoma are those with a family history of FAP, or Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, a condition which causes the early development of polyps in the colon and Adenocarcinoma – another form of rare cancer that affects the lining of organs, glands and the surface layer of the skin. This predisposition is often what prompts early diagnosis of the condition, as physicians run blood tests to determine if a child is affected.
If diagnosed early, the prognosis is better; however, not all children affected by the condition have a family history of FAP, which means doctors aren’t proactively looking for the condition. This often allows the disease to progress further prior to diagnosis and reduces the likelihood of survival for patients.
The blood test run for FAP shows elevated levels of Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), which is an indicator of liver cancer in children. AFP levels are usually high at birth and may drop to a more normal level by the age of one in children who eventually develop Hepatoblastoma. For this reason, the test is most affective when performed shortly after birth and allows physicians to quickly take action to treat the condition.
Treatment for Hepatoblastoma includes surgical removal of cancer cells, when possible, and is usually combined with chemotherapy. In those cases where removal of cancerous tissue is not possible – when too much of the liver is affected - liver transplantation surgery is required.
The survival rate for those who undergo surgical remove of a portion of the liver combined with chemotherapy is relatively high, at about 80 percent. Those who undergo liver transplants also have a high survival rate, at nearly 100 percent. However, if the disease is not discovered early and has the chance to spread, it is typically fatal.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Hepatoblastoma
As Hepatoblastoma affects infants and young children, the majority of SSD claims with this diagnosis are filed by parents seeking benefits on behalf of their children. Applying for SSD for a minor is somewhat different than for disabled adult. While the process may vary slightly, documentation necessary for proving a disability is essentially the same.
Extensive medical records must be present in any application for SSD in order for that claim to be approved. This is still true even when a condition falls under the CAL program. The diagnosis of Hepatoblastoma alone is not enough to substantiate disability. You must include all of your lab results and other medical records as well as statements from your various doctors in your claim as well. The more detailed the information is you’re able to provide, the more likely your claim will be approved quickly and without further need for secondary reviews or appeals.
Your Hepatoblastoma Social Security Disability Case
While Hepatoblastoma was recently added to the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances list, this does not guarantee a claim filed with this diagnosis will automatically be approved. You must still show substantial proof of disability in order to be approved for benefits. Hiring a disability attorney can make the claims process run more smoothly and can shorten the wait time for SSD benefits as well.
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 Hepatoblastoma, request a free case evaluation today.