The process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is often very lengthy, beginning with the three to four month average wait for the initial claim to be reviewed. The majority of applicants are also initially denied benefits, which means they must go through a second review and, in most cases, an appeal before seeing a final determination on their eligibility by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This full process can take a year or more, with some applicants waiting as long as two years.
Those with very severe disabilities and terminal illnesses simply don’t have years, or in some cases even months, to wait for disability benefits. Knowing this, 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 Ohtahara Syndrome.
.If you’ve been diagnosed with either Ohtahara Syndrome, 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.
Ohtahara Syndrome – Condition and Symptoms
Ohtahara Syndrome, or OS, is a progressive form of epileptic disease that affects infants. It usually appears within the first three months following birth and can present as early as just ten days after birth. The syndrome’s most prominent symptoms are tonic muscle spasms and partial seizures in its early stages. As the disease progresses, neurological decline occurs, intractable seizures develop and mental retardation worsens. In some cases, OS evolves into other types of seizure disorders, including Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and West Syndrome.
There is no single cause known for the condition, though brain malformation is commonly present. Brain atrophy has also been documented as a potential cause. An underlying metabolic syndrome may be at fault in some cases as well. While there has been no absolute genetic condition made for all cases of Ohtahara Syndrome, in some there is clearly a familiar history of the disease.
There are no available effective treatments for most infants with the condition. While glucocorticoids and anticonvulsant medications can be used to lessen or control seizures, they are generally ineffective, especially later in the disease’s progression. The majority of treatments focus on minimizing the effects of symptoms and making the child as comfortable as possible. In those more rare cases where a malformation of one of the hemispheres of the brain is identified as the cause of the condition, surgical removal of that part of the brain can stop seizures and improve the prognosis for the child. While the child will be developmentally limited by the surgery, he or she can survive. In most cases of Ohtahara Syndrome in which no effective treatment is available, the disorder is terminal, usually resulting in death prior to the age of five years.
Filing for Social Security Disability with Ohtahara Syndrome
Because Ohtahara Syndrome affects infants, you’ll be filing an SSD claim for your child. While the process for SSD application on behalf of a minor varies somewhat from that of disabled adults, the documentation required by the SSA remains the same regardless. 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 greater the documentation in your claim, the more likely you are to be immediately approved for benefits.
Your Ohtahara Syndrome Social Security Disability Case
You’ll need to make your SSD application as thorough as possible to be approved for benefits without further delays. 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. Having legal assistance can also help you get through the review process more quickly.
When your child is diagnosed with Ohtahara Syndrome, the last thing on your mind is the attention to detail required for putting together a thorough and complete application for SSD benefits, but the financial support you can receive from the SSA is likely crucial to being able to provide the care your child needs. This is where a Social Security lawyer’s assistance can be invaluable. He or she can remove much of the burden regarding the SSD application process from your shoulders and allow you instead to focus your attentions on providing adequate care for your child.