Histiocytosis and Social Security Disability

Any application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can take at least three months to be reviewed by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. The DDS additionally denies benefits for the majority of applicants during the initial review – about 70 percent according to national averages. Those denied benefits must usually undergo a second review and eventually an appeal hearing as well. This entire process can take a year to two years in most locations.

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 developed the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program in 2008, which is a process by which 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, though an additional 52 were recently approved for inclusion in the CAL program. Histiocytosis is among them, and is scheduled to become an active in the CAL program as of August 13, 2012.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of Histiocytosis, 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.

Histiocytosis – Condition and Symptoms

Histiocytosis is actually a broad category of syndromes in which histiocytes, a class of immune cells, grow uncontrollably. Although Histiocytosis has been traditionally considered a cancer-like condition, recent studies now indicate certain forms are an immune deficiency syndrome in which the body over produces histiocytes that then attack the body and its healthy cells.

In other words, Histiocytosis patients suffer due to an over-active immune system response, leading to a range of symptoms. Although the condition is sometimes associated with cancer, Histiocytosis is the primary condition and cancer may develop as a secondary condition in some patients.

There are several classes of Histiocytosis, but the type which has recently been approved for the CAL program is Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, or Histiocytosis X, the childhood form of the disease. It typically affects children between 1 and 15 years of age and is a systemic disorder, affecting the entire body.

Systemic illness has far reaching symptoms, which may include: abdominal pain, long term ear drainage, dizziness, protruding eyes, fever, excessive thirst, frequent urination, rashes, irritability, headaches, swollen lymph glands, jaundice, vomiting, weight loss, and failure to thrive in infants. Additional symptoms can include a delay in the onset of puberty, development of tumors in the spine and legs, mental deterioration, seizures, short stature, and limping, among others. Complications can arise, particularly in younger children. These can include anemia, diabetes, lung problems, and pituitary gland issues.

Diagnosis may require x-rays to look for bone tumors, skin and possibly bone marrow biopsies to check for Langerhans cells, and a complete blood count to examine levels of histiocytes. A complete bone scan may also be necessary to determine how many of the bones are affected, and because of the chance of cancer developing, biopsies and CT scans may also be necessary.

Histiocytosis is treated with immune suppressant medications like corticosteroids. Those with cancer will need additional medications like Vinblastine and Methtrexate, and may need surgery and radiation therapy.

The outlook for patients with Histiocytosis X varies widely. The specific form and the severity of its affects determine the prognosis. Some children are able to live a fairly normal life with minimal symptoms; however, younger children, especially infants with the disorder, are much more likely to have systemic issues and less likely to thrive and/or survive as a result.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Histiocytosis

Because Histiocytosis affects infants and children, SSD claims for the disorder are filed by parents seeking benefits for their children. The process for applying on behalf of a child is somewhat different than that for disabled adults. Although the processes vary slightly, the documentation required for providing disability remains the same.

Thorough medical records must be presented in any SSD benefits application, even when the claim is filed for a condition which falls under the CAL program. In other words, a diagnosis of Histiocytosis does not eliminate the medical records requirements of the SSA. In fact, your application should include all medical records, including lab and other test results as well as statements from the different physicians who’ve treated the condition.

Your Histiocytosis Social Security Disability Case

Though recently approved for inclusion in the Compassionate Allowances program, Histiocytosis disability claims are not guaranteed for automatic approval for disability benefits. You must still provide a well documented case for disability. A Social Security Disability attorney can assist you in putting together your application.

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 Histiocytosis, request a free case evaluation today.

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