Hydranencephaly and Social Security Disability

The process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is often very lengthy, beginning with the three to four month average wait time most applicants experience for their initial claim to be review. 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’s (SSA). 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 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 Hydranencephaly.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Hydranencephaly, 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.

Hydranencephaly – Condition and Symptoms

Hydranencephaly is a rare birth defect in which babies are born without the cerebral hemispheres of the brain. Sacs which are filled with brain/spinal fluid are present instead. Infants with this condition may appear normal at birth; however, during the first few weeks, symptoms of the condition become more apparent, and usually include rapid and excessive increase in muscle tone or rigidity, irritability, seizures and accumulation of more fluid in the brain. Other symptoms develop over time and may include vision issues, deafness, blindness, lack of growth, mental development issues, and paralysis.

The exact causes of Hydranencephaly are unknown, but it may be the result of traumatic disorders or infections of the vascular system after the first trimester of pregnancy. The diagnosis of the condition is usually delayed because infants appear normal during the first weeks or months following birth, though in some cases, additional birth defects or abnormalities may be present, including muscle spasms and respiratory complications.

There is no single, effective therapy for Hydranencephaly, and treatment instead focuses on reducing the affects of symptoms and providing supportive care for the child. A brain shunt is usually necessary to alleviate pressure on the brain from excess fluid and is surgically implanted. Multiple surgeries may be necessary over the course of the child’s life.

Life expectancy for infants with As Hydranencephaly is short. Most do not live beyond the age of one, though in rare cases, children do survive several years with the condition.

Filing for Social Security Disability with Hydranencephaly

As Hydranencephaly 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.

Many people mistakenly think that the diagnosis of Hydranencephaly alone will get them approved for benefits. While it’s true that the SSA views terminal illnesses differently, and especially those that affect infants and children, 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 greater the documentation in your claim and the more included, the more likely you are to be approved without additional delays or the need for second reviews or appeals.

Your Hydranencephaly 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 Hydranencephaly, the last thing on your mind is the attention to detail required for putting together a thorough and complete application for SSD benefits, though the financial support you can receive from the SSA is likely crucial to being able to provide the support and 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.

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