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Lissencephaly and Social Security Disability

For a number of reasons, including poorly put together applications and confusing requirements for disability benefits, most applications (about 70%) for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are initially denied. Additionally, the first review of a disability claim can take three or more months to go through.

As most applicants are denied, they must go through a second review and/or an appeal hearing before receiving a final decision on their eligibility for benefits. Each step in this process tacks months onto the full duration of applying for SSD. Altogether, it’s not uncommon for applicants to wait a year for a decision and for some the wait is significantly longer.

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 Lissencephaly.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of Lissencephaly, 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.

Lissencephaly – Condition and Symptoms

Lissencephaly is a rare condition which results in malformation of the brain in fetal development. In infants with this condition, the brain fails to form correctly and lacks the gyri (folds) and sulci (grooves) which are essential to normal neurological function and development.

Lissencephaly can take several forms and can also result from a number of causes. Infection early in a pregnancy, lack of adequate blood supply to the fetus’ brain during development, and several known genetic mutations can also result in the development of Lissencephaly.

Children born with Lissencephaly are severely neurologically impaired. They usually present with seizures, muscle spasticity, low muscle tone and a number of other neurological symptoms. Additional signs of the disorder include difficulty swallowing and unusual or abnormal facial features, hands and fingers, and feet and toes.

Lissencephaly is usually diagnosed during pregnancy, at birth, or shortly following birth. In some cases, Lissencephaly can also be confirmed through genetic testing; however, since not all cases result from genetic mutation, even a genetic analysis which comes back clear of Lissencephaly markers does not rule out the condition entirely. Ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs can all be used to confirm the diagnosis of Lissencephaly.

While advancements in imaging technology and genetic testing have shown there to be about twenty variants of Lissencephaly, the type of the condition an infant exhibits has little to no affect on his or her prognosis. In most cases, children do not live past infancy and never advance mentally beyond the level of intelligence seen in three to five month old babies. In rare cases, in which a more mild malformation of the brain is present, children may live into their early teens and may or may not exhibit fairly normal intellectual development.

Treatment for children with Lissencephaly depends on the severity of the condition and the locations in which the brain is malformed. Treatment focuses on controlling or lessening symptoms and providing supportive care to keep the child comfortable and provide for basic needs.

Feeding support may be necessary, including the surgical placement of a feeding tube, in some cases. A brain shunt may also be required to remove excess fluid from the brain. Medications for treating seizures and other symptoms are widely used.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Lissencephaly

As Lissencephaly affects newborns, the 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 Lissencephaly alone is not enough to substantiate disability.

You must include all of your imaging test results, genetic screening results, and all of your medical records in your application. Additionally, you should include 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 reviews or appeals.

Your Lissencephaly Social Security Disability Case

While Lissencephaly 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 proof of a definitive diagnosis and the resulting required course of treatment 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 Lissencephaly, request a free case evaluation today.