Each and every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives millions of applications for Social Security Disability benefits. This results in a significant backlog of applications and, as a result, it takes some applicants more than two years to receive a single benefit check from the SSA. Unfortunately some applicants suffer from conditions that are so severe that they cannot possibly be expected to wait the standard processing times.
In 2008 the SSA recognized this fact and introduced the Compassionate Allowances program. Under this program individuals who suffer from certain disabilities can be approved for benefits in as few as 10 days. When the program was first introduced there were only 50 conditions that would qualify a claim for Compassionate Allowances processing. That list has now been expanded to include approximately 200 conditions. Retinopathy of prematurity (Stage V) is one of the conditions that now qualifies a disability claim for Compassionate Allowances processing.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (Stage V) Condition and Symptoms
Retinopathy of prematurity, also referred to as ROP, is caused by abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of premature babies who are born with a very low birth weight. The condition occurs when the abnormal blood vessels grow and spread throughout the retina and the tissue that lines the back of the eye. Because these blood vessels are very fragile, they can break easily and leak blood. This scars the retina and pulls it out of position. There are five different stages of ROP. Stage V is the most severe and it results in complete retinal detachment. Stage V qualifies an individual for the Compassionate Allowances program.
Symptoms of ROP can vary from one patient to the next. Common symptoms of the disorder include:
- Retinal detachment (Stage V)
- Abnormal eye movements
- Crossed eyes
- Severe nearsightedness
- White pupils
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Retinopathy of Prematurity (Stage V)
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits you must provide the SSA with evidence to support your disability claim. In the case of a Compassionate Allowances listing, you must provide specific medical evidence that proves your qualifies for processing under the Compassionate Allowances guidelines. Stage V retinopathy of prematurity, requires that you collect and provide the following medical evidence:
- Medical reports featuring a clinical history and examination that describes the diagnostic features and physical findings of the condition
- Pediatric ophthalmological examination that indicates total retinal detachment
- Visual acuity and visual fields testing for older children
There are a several treatments used to address this condition. Unfortunately not all patients respond the same to each of these methods. Treatments for ROP include laser treatments, cryotherapy, implementation of a silicon band and vitrectomy.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (Stage V) and Your Social Security Disability Case
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits you are not required to retain legal representation. It is important to note, however, that your case will go much more smoothly if you do. Some Compassionate Allowances claims are denied by the SSA due to lack of sufficient medical evidence and/or improperly filled out paperwork. Once denied, the applicant will then have to wait through the appeals process. While Compassionate Allowances appeals are handled more quickly than standard appeals, it is still a time-consuming process and should be avoided at all costs.
You can make sure that your application is submitted properly with sufficient medical evidence by hiring a disability lawyer. Your lawyer can work with you to complete your claim forms properly and help you provide enough medical evidence to support your Compassionate Allowances claim.
Click here to find out more about applying for disability benefits due to Retinopathy of Prematurity (Stage V) or to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.