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Leigh's Disease and Social Security Disability

Every year, parents across the United States file Social Security Disability claims for children who have been diagnosed with severely disabling conditions. In most cases, a Social Security Disability applicant must wait months, if not years, for their Social Security Disability claims to be approved by the Social Security Administration.

For parents filing for Social Security Disability benefits for a child who is suffering from a severe or terminal disability, the extensive wait times for a disability claim approval can seem both unfair and unreasonable. The SSA has recognized this fact, and in 2008 they implemented the SSA's Compassionate Allowances program. The SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines allow individuals who are diagnosed with one of 88 extremely severe disabling conditions to qualify for expedited consideration of their disability benefits application, and in many cases such claims are approved in a matter of weeks rather than months or years.

Leigh's Disease is one of the conditions that qualifies an applicant for processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines. If your child has been diagnosed with Leigh's Disease and you are wondering how the condition will affect your child's eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits, the following information will shed light on the disability application process and how you can ensure that your child's disability claim is processed quickly and efficiently according to the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines.

Leigh's Disease - Condition and Symptoms

Leigh's Disease is a rare neurometabolic condition that is inherited genetically. Normally the symptoms of this condition present themselves in infants between the ages of three months and two years old, but it does, on rare occasion, manifest in teenagers and adults as well. The condition can be caused by enzyme deficiencies or by mutations in an individual's mitochondrial DNA.

The symptoms of Leigh's Disease vary from person to person. Common symptoms of the disease include difficulty sucking, poor head control, and impaired motor skills. Patients may also suffer from appetite loss, irritability, vomiting, seizures, and chronic crying. The symptoms usually progress rapidly, often resulting in loss of muscle tone, weakness, and the development of lactic acidosis resulting in respiratory complications and decreased kidney function.

If a physician suspects that a patient is suffering from Leigh's Disease, a number of tests will be conducted. Common tests to diagnose the condition include testing for a deficiency of pyruvate dehydrogenase or the presence of lactic acidosis. Brain scans and genetic testing may also be conducted.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Leigh's Disease. A diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates may be recommended for patients who are diagnosed with the disease. Treatments of infants with Leigh's Disease usually focus on managing the symptoms of the condition. In most cases, infants who are diagnosed with Leigh's Disease will not live for more than two to three years after the onset of the condition.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Leigh's Disease

Having your child diagnosed with Leigh's Disease can be a traumatic experience, and it is not uncommon for at least one parent to leave the workplace in order to care for the child full time. Fortunately, the resulting financial stress can often be offset by Social Security Disability benefits.

Leigh's Disease is one of the 88 conditions that qualify an applicant for processing under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines. You will still need to gather the necessary medical evidence to prove your claim to the SSA, however, including full copies of your child's medical records along with your Social Security Disability application. Written statements from treating physicians may also help support your claim for Social Security Disability benefits.

Your Leigh's Disease Social Security Disability Case

Many parents who file Social Security Disability claims for children who have been diagnosed with a condition included in the SSA's Compassionate Allowances listings assume that their application for benefits will be automatically approved by the SSA. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While it is not common, it does occasionally happen that the SSA denies disability claims based on a diagnosis that qualifies for processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines.

When filing a claim for disability benefits based on a diagnosis of Leigh's Disease, you may wish to consult with a disability advocate prior to filing your disability application. Your attorney or advocate can work with you to ensure that your application for disability benefits is presented properly to the SSA and that the adjudicator reviewing your file understands how your claim qualifies for processing under the SSA's Compassionate Allowances guidelines.