The process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is often very lengthy. It begins with the cumbersome process of putting together an application, which after being submitted, takes an average of three to four months before it’s reviewed. Lengthening the process further is the fact that about 70 percent of applicants are denied SSD benefits during the first review.
If initially denied benefits, applicants must usually go through a second review and eventually an appeal after being denied a second time. In all, the process can take a year or more, with some applicants waiting as long as two years.
Because those who have very severe disabilities and terminal illnesses don’t have months or years to wait for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) instituted the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008. CAL is intended to speed up the review and approval process for conditions in which disability is inarguably present.
There are 113 conditions on the CAL program list currently and another 52 which were recently approved for addition, effective August 13, 2012. Among the newly approved conditions is Mastocytosis Type IV.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Mastocytosis Type IV, the following information will help you understand the SSA’s review process for disability claims. It may also help you increase your chances of being quickly approved for disability benefits under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.
Mastocytosis Type IV – Condition and Symptoms
Mastocytosis is a disease that affects the mast cells. These cells form in bone marrow and migrate through the blood stream to other locations throughout the body where they perform a range of functions. There are four classes of Mastocytosis, all of which may qualify for SSD benefits, though Type IV is the form recently approved for expedited review and approval under the CAL guidelines of the SSA.
Symptoms of the illness include skin lesions; itching in the skin, skin flushing, dizziness, loss of consciousness due to low blood pressure, abdominal cramping and pain, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, bone pain, and cognitive dysfunction. There can be systemic involvement with the disease, including issues with the spleen, liver, lymph nodes and gastrointestinal tract. Bones and bone marrow can also be affected.
Mastocytosis can develop in anyone of any age, though more than 65 percent with the disorder experience onset before the age of 15 years. Both sexes and all races are affected by the condition and in at least some cases, a familial history of the disease exists, despite the fact that there is no known genetic predisposition for Mastocytosis.
Type I and II Mastocytosis, while still complex and potentially disabling, have more positive prognoses. Type III often progresses rapidly and the prognosis is guarded, as a result. Mastocytosis Type IV patients have mast cell leukemia in addition to the previously mentioned symptoms. Those with Type IV Mastocytosis rarely have skin lesions but often have systemic (multi-organ) illness.
The observable cluster of symptoms will often confirm diagnosis of Mastocytosis. To achieve a definitive diagnosis of Type IV, blood tests must be performed and mast cells must be confirmed in at least 10 percent of the red blood cells, though levels are usually significantly higher. Mast cells, both typical and atypical, are also found in the bone marrow and other tissues through biopsies. Skin biopsies, liver function tests, bone scans and skeletal x-rays as well as CT scans are also commonly performed.
Mastocytosis Type IV is a terminal illness for which there is no effective treatment. Treatment instead focuses on keeping the patient as comfortable as possible. Death commonly occurs only months after diagnosis. The SSA, being aware of this, has approved Mastocytosis Type IV as a Compassionate Allowance for disability benefits.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Mastocytosis Type IV
As Mastocytosis Type IV is a terminal illness, seeking disability benefits under the SSA’s CAL program with this diagnosis is usually less complicated of a process, but you will still need to include as much medical evidence as possible in your claim. While it’s true that the SSA views terminal illnesses differently, you will still need to complete the full application process for disability benefits.
This means you’ll need to place all of your medical records in your application, including test results and labs in addition to written statements from all your doctors. The more convincing the documentation in your claim, the more likely you are to be approved without additional delays or the need for second reviews or appeals.
Your Mastocytosis Type IV Social Security Disability Case
You’ll need to make your SSD application as thorough as possible to be approved for benefits without delay. A Social Security Disability attorney who is familiar with the application process can help you ensure your file is complete and meets the SSA’s eligibility requirements.
Disability Attorneys will be able to help you throughout each stage of the process (initial, reconsideration, hearing, appeal’s council or federal court review). These attorneys work on a contingency basis and are not awarded benefits unless your claim is approved. Fill out the free case evaluation form to speak with a disability attorney in your area today.