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Childhood Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas and Social Security Disability

Most people who apply for Social Security Disability 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 SSD, with the national average denial rate being 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, and some applicants wait as long as two years for a final decision from the SSA.

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 SSD benefits, the SSA launched the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008. Under the guidelines of CAL, 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. An additional 52 were recently approved for the list, including Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas in children, which will become an active condition in the CAL program as of August 13, 2012.

If your child has received a diagnosis of Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas, 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.

Childhood Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas – Condition and Symptoms

Childhood Brain Stem Glioma is a disease in which tumor form in the brain stem tissue of children. Tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). While the form of the disease which has recently been approved for the SSA’s CAL program is Malignant Childhood Brain Stem Gliomas, the benign form can still qualify for SSD benefits, just not under the expedited review and approval procedures of the CAL program.

Childhood Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas are a form of cancer which start in the brain stem but can spread to other areas of the brain and spine. The cause of most brain tumors in children is unknown. Symptoms can vary widely and often depend on the age of the child and the exact location of the tumor or tumors.

Symptoms of Childhood Brain Stem Gliomas can include loss of balance, difficulty walking, vision and hearing issues, nausea and vomiting, headaches in the morning or headaches which are alleviated by vomiting, changes in energy level and excessive tiredness or sleepiness.

Several diagnostic exams that give a detailed picture of the brain are used to look for Gliomas, including CT scans with dye contrast and MRIs. Tumors are usually diagnosed after an MRI and a biopsy confirms malignancy.

The disease is treated by a team of medical experts and treatments include surgical removal, when possible, radiation, chemotherapy, and cerebrospinal fluid diversion. Physicians, parents and patients also must take a “wait and see” approach after treatment, actively monitoring condition and symptoms and usually performing many more medical tests to see if the tumors grow or recur after surgery.

There is no cure for Gliomas. The outcome with every case is different and determined by a number of factors, including the child’s age at diagnosis and the number, size and location of tumors.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Childhood Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas

When applying for disability benefits with any diagnosis, you must include substantial medical documentation in your claim. In the case of Childhood disability applications, this includes documentation of diagnosis, treatment and current condition.

The various test results, including MRIs, CT scans, and biopsies should also be in your application. In addition to all of these findings, your application for SSD benefits should include statements from all of your doctors, including the physician who originally suspected a bigger problem as well as those who diagnosed and have treated your child.

The more detailed the documentation you’re able to have in your initial application for disability benefits, the less likely you’ll experience delays in getting the SSD payments to which you may be entitled.

Your Childhood Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas Social Security Disability Case

While Childhood Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas are approved by the SSA for expedited claims processing under the CAL program, the diagnosis alone is not enough to prove eligibility for benefits. You must still substantiate the diagnosis and overall condition. 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 Childhood Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas, request a free case evaluation today.